I don’t know about you, my friends, but I will NOT be sad to see the back of the summer of 2023. I am plagued by a severe case of the summer doldrums this year. Like the middle of winter doldrums, but hotter.

Dawn on the Rideau River near Manotick, Ontario
Dawn is beautiful. But I’ve been seeing it too often this month

I know that I cannot, or should not, complain about the heat, but I will anyway. We have been having a hot summer here. Hot for us. Which is nothing compared to what some of you have been experiencing. I know that. So don’t take this as an attempt at comparison. More an expression of fellow feeling with all of you who’ve been having a less than stellar summer too.

So, there’s the heat. Heat and humidity. The fires, of course, and the smoke, and resulting poor air quality. Followed by torrential rain, thunderstorms, wind, and a tornado or two. Not in our backyard. But too close for comfort for many of my friends who live in Barrhaven. Then this was followed by a few brief power outages, just to keep us on our toes. I’ve pedalled my exercise bike in the dark a few times this week. And you all know what heat and wet produce for those of us who are allergic to mold? Yep. That, those, followed by the other stuff. Antihistamines and icepacks have been de rigueur this month.

And underpinning all the hot flashes, and restless nights, is my anxious brain. Worrying away at whatever cannot be tackled in the dead of night. I won’t get into what I’ve been dwelling on and fussing over. Maybe later. Not today. What I do want to talk about is what I’ve been doing to try to stave off the summer doldrums. To haul myself out of the slough of despond (hyperbole alert) each morning.

First off, of course, I’ve been reading. A lot. I read three Mark Billingham mysteries in a row. Hubby and I really like Billingham, but he had somehow fallen off our book radar lately. So when I saw that he had a brand new series out, I realized that I had not read all of the Tom Thorne series. I remedied that by reading Their Little Secret, and the final Thorne instalment The Murder Book. I like Billingham’s characters, his wry humour, and his well-constructed plots. But I can see that it was time to retire Tom Thorne and move on. The Last Dance is the first book in his new series. Set in Blackpool instead of London, this new series is not quite as dark as the Thorne books, funnier, and just as well written. I can highly recommend.

The other book which I also devoured recently is Jane Casey’s newest Maeve Kerrigan mystery The Close. Maeve has recently returned to work, not quite recovered, at least emotionally, from the disastrous events in the last Jane Casey book. She is immediately thrown into an undercover assignment, with she and her boss, Josh Derwent, posing as a couple. Trouble ensues. Big time. I love the sparring relationship between Kerrigan and her colleague and superior officer Josh Derwent. And despite Derwent’s sometimes socially unacceptable remarks, and his huge ego, he is a complex and likeable character. Casey is a very competent writer, and I enjoyed this book tremendously. I mean, it’s not great literature; Casey is no Penelope Lively or Maggie O’Farrell. But good quality, well-crafted mystery fiction can be hard to find in a world that is filled with schlock, with terrible plots, and worse writing.

So there’s been lots of reading going on. And diving into a book which engages me is always helpful when the summer doldrums threaten. I’ve been reading on the deck in the cool of the early mornings with my cup of tea in hand. And then moving into the house when the temperature rises and we turn on the air conditioner. We try to keep it off as much as we can, opening our windows after dark and keeping them open for as long as possible in the mornings to help cool the livingroom and sun room. That’s the problem with big windows and, due to a couple of big trees coming down, a lot less shade than we had in years past.

And when I head out, I’ve been wearing my new stuff. My linen pieces so kindly sent to me by Grae Cove. Like the cream camp shirt below. I’ve worn it a few times. For a shopping expedition to the mall, with my white Levi’s 501 jeans, rolled up, my Birkenstock sandals, a black cami and black belt, my new sunglasses, and my Eric Javits straw tote bag. I also wore this exact outfit with my cut-off white jeans to meet a friend for coffee earlier this week. So you see it’s not like I’ve been sitting home whining and wallowing. Okay, maybe there’s been a bit of whining.

Showing my Grae Cove camp shirt with my white Levis 501 jeans.
Off to the mall.

On Thursday evening, I wore the outfit below to meet two friends for a visit to the National Gallery followed by dinner in the Byward Market. I wore my old black Vince tee shirt, my new black vest from Aritzia, my white Levis again, rolled up again, old flat black sandals, black belt, and my ancient black messenger-style bag bought at Holt Renfrew back before the new millennium began. I love that old bag. It always makes me want to party like it’s 1999… again. Maybe I should have said, this old bag loves that old bag. Ha.

wearing my new vest with. my white Levi's 501 jeans, black Vince tee, and flat sandals.
Off to experience some culture, wine, food, and conversation.

On Thursday, my friends and I saw the National Gallery of Canada exhibit Uninvited: Canadian Women Artists in the Modern Moment, featuring numerous women artists who were working at the beginning of the twentieth century. You can read about the exhibit here. The women artists of the time were often better trained that their more successful, and better known, male counterparts. And it’s interesting to note many were friends, lovers, and companions of the more famous male artists, most notably the Group of Seven. It’s also sobering to realize that while most Canadians are familiar with the work of the Group of Seven, we know very little of their female contemporaries. And almost nothing of the female indigenous artists and artisans who produced their own wonderful work.

I think the painting below by Prudence Heward was my favourite of the exhibit. The brooding strength, and what might be suppressed anger, or some other strong emotion, in that young woman’s face is striking. Especially when juxtaposed against the bright pink apron. Is the pink, one might even say Barbie pink, apron mean to be ironic? Pink is after all the symbolic colour of female gender-identity, the colour eschewed by young mothers back in my day as too girly for their daughters who would be raised to strive for whatever they wanted despite being girls and then women.

Favourite painting from the Uninvited exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada. Rollande by Prudence Heward, 1927.
“Rollande” by Prudence Heward, 1927

I love that “Rollande” was painted in 1927, the year my mother was born. She who raised her own girls to value books and education, and who said that when we grew up we should have a career, and our own money, and “never depend on a man.” That was my mum’s mantra when I was a kid. But as much as she said that to us, she was always fearful in a world run by men. And despite the fact that Mum was herself raised by a strong woman, my grandmother always, always placed a higher value on her sons over her daughters. So while Mum encouraged us to find strength and confidence, she’d sadly never been taught to have confidence in herself.

You know, as I write about Prudence Heward’s painting, I must tell you that I’ve just booked tickets for a few of us to see the movie Barbie next week. It seems that in the wake of all the palaver over what everyone thought would be a piece of fluff, Barbie pink is now the colour of the summer. Pink is taking on a whole new meaning. Rebel Barbie is a thing. And from what I’ve seen on TikTok striking fear into the hearts of misogynists everywhere. Ha. That alone makes me want to wear pink every day.

So you see, while I may have been afflicted with the summer doldrums or descended into the slough of despond (you gotta love that phrase, thank you John Bunyan) more often than normal lately, I am not without the tools to pull myself out of the mire.

Books. Books. And more books. As usual. A little fashion and outfit-planning therapy, some art, and the company of good friends. Whether over coffee, or wine and food, or tea and cakes. Or popcorn.

I am so getting popcorn when we go to Barbie. Usually I don’t. It’s horrendously expensive. But I think all that pink calls for popcorn.

Or… or… I wonder if the movie theatre sells cotton candy.

How about you my friends? What tools do you employ to battle the summer doldrums? I was going to say the slough of despond again, but I think I might be over-employing that particular phrase. Ha.

P.S. The clothing links and the book links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking my link, I will earn a small commission. The Grae Cove link still gives you 20% off, by the way.


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67 thoughts on “Staving Off the Summer Doldrums”

  1. When I have difficulty sleeping, I like to listen to the Get Sleepy podcasts or on YouTube. I play the stories with the case of my phone or Ipad closed, so that there is no light, just the audio. It stops a whole lot of thoughts from jumping around in my brain and I am never awake to hear the end of the story. I do the same if I wake during the night.

  2. I have made a new rule with my middle of the night brain: if you insist on being awake, you may not dwell on mad,bad,sad. Try other stuff. Anything else but not the nasty side. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Eventually I go back to sleep. Our summer has been odd too, but not literally disastrous or deadly. Too hot and then too wet but now it seems to be turning quite pleasant as August approaches. And now, my first tea of the day calls. As Churchill said: keep buggering on…

  3. I can see the heat must be very draining & the fire risk seems to be worldwide these days . I’ve been reading eye witness accounts of holiday makers in Greece running from fires with little children in their arms & only passports in hand . Dreadful . We are having a good old British summer here . Which means spells of sunshine & rather too much rain . I’m in & out to the washing line like a mad thing . The temps are around 20F max now but it’s enough to encourage plenty of plant growth & our garden is burgeoning like the tropics . I’m not complaining as I don’t like heat & love the freshness after rain . Grey skies day after day are not good for the soul though .
    You seem to be keeping well occupied . I really enjoyed The Close ( will they , won’t they ? )but must try Mark Billington . I like the sound of the Blackpool setting . That was our Las Vegas when we were young ! I’m still picking my way through my dad’s old diaries ( as I mentioned to Frances ) & it’s bringing him right back to me , including his annoying quirks which I seem to be able to view in a different light now . I guess I’m more mature in my 70s than I was in my teens 😁I’ve also been working on my Ancestry family tree which is engrossing when it goes well , like a detective mystery at times . Two ‘ cousins ‘ ie sons & daughters of first cousins have contacted me recently from other countries & their queries have set me off again .
    Wish I could have joined you at the art gallery . I love that art period & especially the Group of Seven but I was unaware of the women artists . The spare details on that last painting really make the expressive face jump out at you . I’m off down that art rabbit hole now .

    1. Your dad’s diaries must be such a treasure, Wendy. Also difficult at times. I wonder what my mum’s would have said if she had written anything other than the weather and who called or visited each day. Not sure I would want to be privy to them, actually. Funny that you should mention Las Vegas, the first description of Blackpool in The Last Dance mentions Las Vegas.

  4. Sorry about the doldrums,hope that everything will be ok.
    I’ve just bought The Last Dance!I’ve started with Tom Thorne mysteries,but didn’t continue….
    It resonates with me very much
    reading mysteries in a row when I utterly like something. In July it was even four in a row: M.W.Craven’s Washington Poe series 2.-5. ( Black Summer,The Curator,Dead Ground and The Botanist. First one- The Puppet Show- I’ve read maybe last year )I love them, especially the characters Poe and Tilly,imagine Robson Green like Poe (or DC Smith :))
    Weather here is crazy and absolutely atypical,the longest heatwave with storms like never before (I’ve only read about something like that so far)
    It was nice to share art exibition visit with you-have to check the artist
    Take care,

  5. Spring has gotten an early start here. There are some snowdrops in my garden, and the blue bell leaves are popping up everywhere. We had 24C here today so it’s a warmer winter day than summer in many other places but the evenings are still cool and it won’t last. I’m sure there’ll be cooler days ahead.
    Thank you for sharing information about Canadian artists, especially the women. Rollande is a very striking work and I love the bold flat planes of colour and the iconic rural setting.
    You mum’s pro-female perspective was very touching, especially given that she didn’t receive the same encouragement herself.

  6. It has certainly felt like a long summer here, no matter what the calendar says. I have spent the hottest days teaching myself to watercolor. Shout out to YouTube for the wealth of artists willing to teach rank amateurs like me through the magic of uploaded videos. When sleep eludes me, as it so often does, I look at inspirational artwork and photos for future paintings. Better than dwelling on all the other stuff that tries to elbow its way into my thoughts!

  7. Hi Sue,
    Sorry that you’ve been experiencing summer doldrums. I’ve never really been much of a summer person anyway. My fondest memories are of camping in August, when the evenings cool off and the large lakes are warmer and swimmable. Let’s hope we have a pleasant August. I recall tornadoes from my youth (e.g., one that flattened a town where my mom taught in southern Ontario in 1986, but the too close for comfort one a week or so ago (I was in a plane at the airport with people’s phone alerts going off when the tornado touched down in Barrhaven maybe six km away) was ugly. They do seem to be becoming more frequent.

    Re. the pink and the women artists. I knew about the Beaver Hall group maybe twenty-five years ago, because there was a book written, or perhaps there was an exhibition I saw when I lived in Montreal. There’s also a Lillias Torrance Newton self-portrait in the permanent collection at the NGC, so perhaps that’s it. It’s true though that they’re not broadly known across the public. One thing I did want to say is that I don’t know that pink was a colour of femininity in 1927. I think I recall reading that commercially (at least in the US), the colours were flipped for baby boys and baby girls at some point, possibly around the 1940s). That said, I suspect the use of pink in the painting in any case is more about colour theory and complementarity with the green grass. But who knows?! I could be wrong. I also love the expression on the face of the girl in the picture.

    I consider myself a feminist, but not a strident one about symbols (maybe I should be). I’ve been going back and forth in my head about whether I would see Barbie. I’m not really bothered either way, but I will say that I remember thinking Barbies were pointless and ridiculous when I was a girl. I was born in the 70s, and Barbie came out in 1959, so I was given hand-me-down Barbies by a neighbouring family. All I remember doing with them was braiding the hair and then taking my mom’s sewing machine, cutting up some of her fabric, and making a dress for one. And then they got stuffed under the bed. What I really wanted to do was play with my brother’s trucks and cars, but more pertinently, I was obsessed with building a network of roads and bridges over me-made ponds in the backyard for his trucks. I remember always being annoyed by the Christmas gifts I received, when the toys my brother received were so much more interesting. So I suppose I hold this against Barbie (and I do recall being given a dollhouse made by my grandfather, plus a Barbie ski slope (the fun of which was in the putting together, not the using). Oh well! Hopefully we’ve moved on from there.

    You won’t be surprised that I could go on and on about gender roles. My dad’s mother was fortunate in that her father, although he only had girls, encouraged his daughters to go to university. My grandmother therefore graduated from the University of Toronto in 1932! On my mom’s side of the family, however, the boys were always treated in a privileged way, so my mother has always lacked the confidence she should have (especially given how clever she is). Unfortunately some of those messages got through to my mom, and she and I have had many fights over the years over ways in which she subtly privileges my brothers over me (although she raised me to be educated, encouraged my study of math, and has been proud of my achievements, etc.). It’s a tough topic!

    1. PS Sorry for the unclosed brackets and long post. I get passionate about these topics.

    2. I should have done my pink research. Just read an article (admittedly on Wikipedia ;)) that said that it was the colour-fastness of dyes which also influenced the emergence of pink for girls. Since baby’s clothes needing to be washed so much etc. As a child in the late fifties and a kid in the sixties, I’ve always associated pink, especially that bright pink, with girls. I agree about the artist’s intention. I wonder if perhaps the sense of irony that came to me was because the pink is so bright against the sombre background. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a conversation about this with Prudence Heyward herself?

      1. It sure would be lovely to have a conversation with her! My great grandmother’s cousin was one of the suffragettes memorialized on Parliament Hill. She had some unsavoury beliefs as well as some laudable ones. If I could time travel I’d go back in time to interrogate these women. I think the biggest problem we have is with projection of our beliefs on people of a different time. That said, it’s also important to recognize their courage.

        Sounds as though Annie and I have rows with our moms in common! 🙂

        And to (another!) Sue: I read a number of thoughtful reviews of the movie and see what Gerwig tried to do. I still think the movie wouldn’t quite be for me, but I can see the appeal of the nostalgia aspect of it to some, and perhaps the opening up of “new” ideas to yet others.

    3. Barbie film is probably not for me, though I have heard good reports from people who I trust. Overall…I don’t think I can be bothered. I was never a fan of the doll or the shade of pink when I was a child, and a Barbie-inspired piece of feminist polemic seems a little strained. With you on the male privileges in family and also with the many rows I had about it with my mum.

      1. Well-stated, Annie. That said, I might yet have my rubber arm twisted to see the movie and nuance my opinion. 🙂

    4. Sue (another one)

      My husband and I (both 65ish) saw Barbie last week and both enjoyed it, and the film makes very direct acknowledgment of the ‘Barbie baggage’ (a term I just made up, but I hope you know what I mean) in a couple of different ways. I kind of enjoyed explaining my 60’s childhood Barbie experiences to him.

  8. What wonderful thoughtful responses to this well written and timely post. Sleep has alluded me for years now -after our family suffered a great loss, it seems the nights bring out fear.
    So-reading, sleeping close to my dogs, thinking (trying) only thoughts of vacation, mountains, the sea, helps a bit. But 4-5 hours is success for me.
    You tube has taught me how to knit-fair isle obsessed. I made my first holiday stocking! A goal for years. Thank you ladies for sharing your wisdom. What a fine group you all are. cheers.

    1. I remember being caught up in fair-isle sweater fever in the eighties. I couldn’t stop, and churned them out for at least a year. Ended up knitting them for friends, and friend’s boyfriends even.

  9. Well, I can fully understand your summer doldrums. Living in hot steamy Florida, mean hot and steamy from May through October! lol. About August is when I really get sick of it! I spend a few hours in the morning outside under the umbrella and then inside to do chores and read, watch TV. How did you get a copy of The Close?? Amazon says it will be released next year??? I do love those books. If you like murder mysteries like I do, try out Susan Hill. Her books are amazing! I’m going to the Grae Cove website right now. I love linen. I do have some Bryn Walker which is great quality linen, never itchy.

    1. Oh gosh… hot and steamy from May to October would be so hard, Linda. My US Amazon link says September 5 for the Kindle version. I bought mine through Amazon.ca. I’ve noticed that at times British books are available here before they are available for you guys. Sorry to set you on the trail of a book that you can’t access yet. 🙁

  10. Speaking of writing, I so enjoy your blogs. You have such a talent and make everyday topics so interesting and alive. Have you ever considered writing a book?
    It’s been quite warm in my part of the country as well but the worst part are the air quality warnings. So we continue with our separate exercise routines indoors and play some indoor pickle ball.
    I also have trouble in the sleep department so we purchased a selection of what I call sleep music. Our system is on a timer so we can program 2 hours of music. The music helps me shut off whatever I’m thinking about and listen to the soft lovely music and I’m able to drift off.
    Last but not least, your new black vest looked very chic over the black tee.

    1. Thanks, Paula. I think that writing a book would be so stressful. Such a big project. Deadlines!! Ackk. Maybe if I tried writing it in secret first. That might work.

  11. Well, you know how I was feeling about summer — doldrums have lifted (a decent rainfall helped, although it’s quickly receding in the rear-view mirror).

    I loved that exhibition which was at the Vancouver Art Gallery for six months last year. I went back a few times and brought two of my grandkids there as well. And bought the exhibition catalogue! And would happily see it at the National Gallery if I were in Ottawa now — where would we go for lunch afterward? Stay in the Gallery or head to Byward Market? No, wait, I have a hankering for the Chateau Laurier — would that shift your summer doldrums? My treat!

  12. Yes, I can identify with the Summer doldrums😞. Trying to keep my outside plants alive so I have some green vs scorched color.

    As always, thank you for book selections. I love mysteries but sometimes I need a “ take me away” beach read😊 So I go back and forth.

    Be thankful for your friends who can take you away to laugh and visit.

    One of my issues is that I do not have friends that I can go shop, lunch, visit with. We moved to our new location over 3 years ago and those relationships have not seemed to develop. I have tried to form reading and lunch groups but everyone seems too busy and not interested. Feeling sorry for me 🤣🤣

    Enjoy reading your blog every Sunday.

    Looking forward to cooler weather

    1. I’m sorry to hear that, Jes. Moving to a new community can be difficult. Most of the friends I’ve made since I moved to Ottawa years ago have been through work. But my friend recently retired and moved into a new community. She took out a “social membership” at the golf club nearby and has met all kinds of women through the groups they have. She’s even formed a group to go on day trips. But it has to be a community where the other women are interested in meeting and doing things, doesn’t it?

  13. Hi Sue, you look beautiful in the photos.
    I’m continually impressed in your writing on books that you’ve read. I’m a late developer and it’s only over the last years that I’ve taken up reading, I usually choose autobiography books.
    I enjoy reading war stories and am forever amazed at how people have survived the most dreadful situations when imprisoned during world war 2. I’ve just finished reading ‘A train in winter’ a story of Resistance, Friendship and Survival in Auschwitz by Caroline Moorhead.
    I have another book by Caroline Moorhead but will leave reading it for a while.
    Talking about Summer 2023….well, obviously here in Spain we expect hot and humid Summers but it’s now got to extremes. I’m finding it difficult to stay ‘calm, cool and collected’ so to speak. Today, I spent from 09.30 until 11.30 sitting under my parasol at the seashore. It was lovely but by 1130 it was time to get away from tge beach and head to our garden. As a rule, myself and my partner, Jack have taken to having a siesta every lunch time, this hour cools me down. I pop down to tge garden and pool late afternoon where Jack comes down with a cuppa tea for me. As regards SLEEPING at night, some years ago I was diagnosed with EXBOMS syndrome (restless less syndrome) so having had 20 years of only getting 5 hrours of sleep, I am now on medication and thankfully get a decent nights sleep most nights, albeit with our AC on!
    Sue, I’ve not yet ordered anything from GRAE COVE but I intend to order a lovely pink linen dress along with a few other pieces, I’m just anxious on how long it will take to reach me here in Spain!
    I will let you know.

    Finally, thank you Sue for your wonderful interesting stories, I enjoy the comments from all of ours/your friends.

  14. I live in southern Az. Enough said?
    Reading in a cave to keep the heat the heat out. This is the year I mentioned to my husband our absolutely wonderfully beautiful weather isn’t worth living here! Fell on deaf ears.
    Haven’t heard of Mark Bellingham but will acquaint myself. Love your style!

  15. I was restless in the wee hours today as well … I usually fall asleep easily but wake up between 3 and 4 a.m. and chew over whatever are my worries du jour. Listening to a familiar audiobook on low volume, timer set to 30 minutes, usually helps — I’m often asleep again before the time elapses. I’ve been listening to Jane Austen and Barbara Pym on repeat. (A new book would never work because I’d be trying to stay alert.)

    I hope that whatever concerns have been disturbing your sleep are soon lessened or resolved. And more generally, I can identify with the summer doldrums. By the time we get to this point in the summer — and all the more so this year — I am longing for cool evening air and earlier sunsets. (It seems very ungrateful of me as a Canadian to wish away a season that is already short, but there you have it.)

    Book recommendation (which I originally came across from a commenter either here or on Frances’ blog): Shakespeare Saved My Life by Laura Bates.

    1. Thanks Denise. I’m going to go look that book up. For a while when I was first teaching Shakespeare was the bane of my existence. 🙂

  16. Yes, I think this summer is to be endured rather than enjoyed. I watched with horror the reports of the huge fires in Canada, of course now we have them again in Greece. Happens every year, our part of the country has had no rain since May, everywhere is as dry as a tinderbox, and there’s no doubt that many of the fires were deliberately started.
    We have just come out of about 15 days of intense heat, we survived , just about ! My coping strategy is lots of reading, cups of tea, air con for the hottest hours of the day. Not much swimming so far, just too hot for even the short walk to and from the beach. I agree that good sleep in hot weather is elusive, I try not too het up about it and take a nap after lunch . As Annie said, try not to dwell on the mad,bad,sad thoughts that keep us awake.
    Not always easy. I do a bit of mental closet-sorting when I can’t sleep!

  17. It’s been so hot here in Manhattan that some days I’m afraid to go out. To avoid becoming brain dead I’ve been decluttering my apartment, an endless task. And, of course, reading, reading and more reading. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your reading suggestions, and so does my book club. I’m especially grateful for your recommendations of women writers and authors of good murder mysteries. Thankfully the local branch of the library is only two blocks away.

  18. I might be one of the few here that enjoys summer. Our summers are not too hot on Vancouver Island. We have had a terribly dry one though. BC is burning, which is very sad. Fortunately, no fires close to us so no smoke to endure. I’m going to enjoy every day of glorious summer!
    I know your summer has been dreadful with so much heat and humidity, as my daughters live in Ottawa. It’s sad to have your short, warm season pass in such a way when your winters are long and cold.
    I hope your worries disappear, or are resolved soon. I’m a worrier, so I know the wakeless nights. I’ve not been a good sleepier since I had my babies in the seventies, but it has gotten worse with age. I tend to wake very early and can not get back to sleep. It is not unusual for me to be up around 5ish while hubby snores away until about 8:00. Sighs!

    1. Thanks, Joanna. I hope your daughters were not affected by the flooding in downtown or the tornadoes in the suburbs here this summer.

  19. Thank you for the timely post. I seem to feel more and more anxious these days and it affects my sleep as well. I think mine has to do with my worry over my aging parents and what we will be facing soon. Your book suggestions will be a welcome distraction. I recently read a book that has stayed in my head for several weeks. It’s called ‘Goodnight Mr. Wodehouse’ by Faith Sullivan. It takes place over the span of a woman’s life and is about how books get us through difficult and even unimaginable times. It’s sad in parts, yet also uplifting and hopeful. One advantage to the hot weather is I can read without feeling guilty I should be outside-lol! I hope the remainder of your summer is better. I think the Barbie movie with friends sounds like fun!

  20. I wonder if you have read anything by the Irish writer, Tana French. I so love her that I have read all her books and really hope she’ll write another, soon. If not, I’ll have to reread them!

  21. Hi Sue, I subscribe to a meditation app called Headspace, which I have on my iPhone. The guy is Andy Puddicombe. (Spelling?) I do a short meditation exercise each day, and it does help to shut my anxiety down, but the best thing in the app for a madly racing brain is its soundscapes from nature. If I wake up and start ‘thinking’ about things that only seem important at 2 am, I listen to Ocean at Dusk, which beautifully distracting, with waves rushing ashore and sea birds calling. It shuts my stupid brain down most effectively and I get back to sleep. Love your blog. Thank you for your insights and humour. Helen

  22. I so agree about summer doldrums and sleep problems. There was a gentle, humorous writer/essayist in the UK who amused me greatly some 20 or 30 years ago called Arthur Marshall. His answer to sleeplessness was to start counting his blessings, and he claimed that this would send him to sleep because, being a shallow thinker, they were so numerous… As we count our blessings today with the world in a somewhat parlous state, it becomes increasingly important to focus on the positive.

  23. We’ve been watching news coverage of all the dreadful fires in Canada, USA and parts of Europe with dismay. So much loss and damage. In NZ we are at the other end of the spectrum with some of the wettest weather ever recorded causing floods, washouts and slips so there is huge loss and damage here too. Lack of sun is also doldrum inducing.
    I’ve been an insomniac all my life much to my parents’ despair when I was younger but as a result I’ve read a lot of wonderful books over the years. More recently I’ve taken to doing crosswords and puzzles sitting at the kitchen table until the wee small hours. For some reason concentrating on them calms the mind. I find this better than tossing and turning in bed for hours. I’ve always been jealous of my husband who falls asleep about two minutes, if that, after putting his head on the pillow.
    It was interesting to read about your mother and grandmother. My motherxwas very bright and was her school dux. She wanted to go on to university but was told that was just for boys. None of her brothers wanted to go so it was doubly upsetting for her. When it was my turn I was encouraged to do whatever I wanted so I did what she wanted to do and studied science at university. When I graduated I think she would have loved to wave my degree in front of her father if he’d still been alive. She was a real believer in gender equity and equally proud of my daughters’ achievements later on.
    Thanks for such an interesting post – much to think on.

  24. This is been one blipping summer of heat and doldrums…. Older I get the more I dislike heat! Thank you for helping not being alone about feeling this… I truly enjoy your posts!!

  25. I hope I’m not too late to comment on yesterday’s post. I just want to thank you for the Grae Cove recommendation and apologize for thinking you did not reveal the source. It was I who did not read your entire blog to learn the source…..I took off to go order without reading it all. I am so glad I did as I love the pieces I ordered and will be going back. The linen outfit I wore today did not wrinkle excessively and was very comforable in the heat. The fit is what makes them so perfect. Something new and cool to wear in the heat helps with the doldroms…..I just hope it’s not gotten so hot that it will never cool off.

  26. I’ve just read your comment on GRAE COVE and was interested to read that you found the pieces you chose were of good linen quality. So, I am now off to put my order in. Let’s hope I receive them before the end of October when our Autumn starts here in Spain!
    Thank you Mary Francis.

  27. Margaretanne Clinton

    You look darling in that museum black get up.
    I’m glad someone “went on “ about the unbelievably hot summer destroyer weather.
    I had a laugh over that !
    Finally , you can’t over use the slough of despair.(🥹)
    Really love this post.

  28. For the most part I’ve had a great summer, but events conspired this last week…

    We had a bad brushfire (sadly, intentionally set) only 5 kilometers away, near where several friends live. The smoke was intense, the airplanes were swooping down into the ocean right by us to pick up water, and thankfully, the heroic bombeiros were able to get it under control within 12 hours, with no damage to our friends’ homes. Not before I had flashbacks to California wildfire season, and not before it damaged one of my favorite hiking trails. Then one of my cats accidentally bit me (a tiny puncture wound that I disinfected immediately) and I learned that one should go to the doctor and get antibiotics immediately, rather than waiting for one’s arm to swell up. Apparently their tiny cute mouths are are even more filthy than that of a two-year-old who’s just overheard their first bad word. 🙂 I’m on the mend, and all is well, but it is a lesson I would rather have skipped..

    But I did a little wardrobe rummaging, and inspired by your vest post, dug out my own vest that I bought at the late beloved Filene’s Basement in Boston in the mid-90s. It’s kimono silk, and originally from Henri Bendel, and I paired it with a black linen tank and black silk lantern pants, and felt like a million bucks, despite the arm. I also put together two more new-to-me outfits, which is great as August approaches and I’m sick of everything I own.

    1. Oh dear. I’ve heard that about cat bites, but never experienced it. The swelling, I mean, not the bites. That Filene’s outfit sounds wonderful, Carol. I love it when old things make our wardrobes feel new again.

  29. Sorry to read about your case of the summer doldrums. It is certainly understandable, with the recent loss of your mother and with all of the weather-related issues that you mention. Terrible heat and devastating forest fires, then torrential rains, flooding, etc. That is enough to make anyone feel a bit down in the dumps.

    Luckily, you have a strong ability to fight back. Between your reading and your trips out, nicely attired I might add, you are nudging those doldrums aside as much as you are able. As I said to Frances Sprout on her recent post, the rest of us appreciate knowing that we are not alone.

    I’ve added Birmingham and Chase books to my TBR list. Thank you for the introduction to them. I’m currently reading book one in the Ruth Galloway series, which you introduced me to. I stayed up too late reading last night.

    I think that pink has not always been associated with girls. It was once popular with men as well. For whatever reason, in my time it became a “girly” color and so many people I know started being very proud of not liking it for that reason. Several years ago, I decided that I would embrace my enjoyment of pink and I find myself with a very trendy collection of bright pink clothing and accessories. Now, to wear some of it to the Barbie movie. I’m glad to see some men wear pink too. It looks good on them.

    I’d like to learn more about the female artists in the show. I wonder if it will tour the U.S. Will have to check. I’d love to go to the National Gallery to see them, but I don’t think that a trip to Canada is in my near future. I cannot wait to get back there!

    I hope that a cool breeze blows through your neighborhood soon.

  30. I saw Barbie and loved it!!! I begged for my Barbie doll in about 1961. In the beginning of the movie, the scene is little girls getting rid of their baby dolls and suddenly there is a shot of beautiful Margot Robbie in my Barbie’s bathing suit. Such memories I have of playing with Barbie. This was before the accessories or maybe my mom refused to buy all that gear. We had imagination back then. I still have Barbie and her patent leather case.

    One suggestion, I heard someone in authority talking about the making of the movie and Greta Gerwig. That was helpful and added to viewing the movie. It’s not all fluff. There is a message. Please please do a post on it after you see it. The clothes are spectacular imo. Margot R wore recreated Barbie outfits on the red carpet. Adorable, beautiful. I went down the Barbie rabbit hole after the movie. Can you tell? ha!

    1. I adored my Barbies too, Jey. And I had that black shiny plastic case with the photo of the original Barbie on it in her evening gown. I gave all my Barbie paraphernalia to my niece’s daughter when we cleaned out the old farmhouse in 2012. I had saved it for years and years.

  31. Thank you for the book recommendations I just downloaded the first book of Jane Casey’s Mauve series. Also I was thinking back to the black vest and pants outfit. On YouTube I saw someone style those pieces with a white v neck t-shirt and I liked the look. The v neck makes the difference. Did you try it that way?

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