Summer Updates

June 27, 2014

Gracious Living Day by DayI try not to feel guilty when I don’t have time to write, but I do. I try to pretend that I have outgrown this kind of self reproach when, really, I am the same person I have always been. Only older.

I am being too hard on myself. I have made a few advances through the years after all, one of which is not having to finish every book I start reading, even those that I don’t like. Still, even in this regard I would be lying if I claimed foolproof consistency.

For the last few months I have been reading a book by an Italian writer about the historical and cultural influences of the river Danube on the territories along its flow. I find the book pretentious and stuffy, but I can’t stop reading it. I feel I would be deceitful to this river I love (my mother’s family has lived in a village on the Danube for many generations) if I didn’t follow it all the way to the Black Sea.

Banostor, Serbia Banostor, my mother’s village, with the Danube in the foreground

I hate using the same old excuse of being busy, but that is the plain and honest truth. I haven’t had time for writing because I have been very busy.

My niece Rachel got married this spring and my sister and I worked hard to finish the quilt that the two of us designed and made by hand for her. My niece Nicole graduated from college a few weeks later. My father and step-mother came to visit and celebrate all these wonderful events with us. And through it all I worked on a big freelance project.

My children have been coming and going all spring and summer, our little house bursting at the seams. Mike hurt his knee playing basketball last winter and has been confined to the living room couch, writing and working from there, trying not to go crazy from restlessness and impatience. Nena and her puppy Flaika are home for a few months, Nena making excursions to various places (the East Coast, Israel) now and then, leaving Flaika with us. Sam is spending the summer taking classes and working on environmental research in the depths of the Michigan forests.

And I have finally managed (with Nena and Flaika) to escape to our cottage near Lake Michigan.

It is sunny and warm this morning, crisp and clear, not a drop of humidity in the air. Nena and I are sitting opposite each other at the long dining room table, writing. Through the screen door, Flaika is guardedly observing the antics of our neighbor’s big Siberian Husky, Storm.

It’s very quiet; all one hears are the birds. A big, bright bluejay just landed on the window sill.

A bowl of freshly picked Michigan strawberries is on the table.

Nena writing Nena writing

Nena is writing a collection of stories about our family in Serbia and we plan on spending the afternoon sitting on the front porch, talking. I will tell her what I know about the lives of great-great grandfathers and grandmothers and uncles and aunts and cousins. Maybe this is why I was always keeping records, remembering, listening. Since earliest childhood I have been a witness. Maybe this is why.

In early evening we plan on taking a long walk along the Lake Michigan shore. Flaika loves running along the beach, shooting like a bullet, dumfounded at her own speed and abandon. We’ll be tired and spent by the time we get back to our little cottage.

Flaika at the beach Flaika at the beach

Tonight, before I fall asleep I will spend a few hours reading the Italian’s version of the history of the Danube. We are in Bulgaria now, almost at the entrance to the Black Sea. I can’t wait to arrive. Other authors are waiting on my night table, among them Jane Smiley and Tony Morrison.

Dear readers, I have missed you. Have a wonderful summer!

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