Randomly, On a Summer’s Day

I am — once again — reading the Harry Potter series aloud to my youngest son.

This is his second read-aloud, and although I’m thinking this must be my fourth complete-series read-aloud, I may be mistaken; my older son claims I did not actually read the entire series aloud to him. Said older son is, in fact, extremely irritated with the fact that I am STILL reading books aloud to his 11 year-old brother: WHY are you reading to him?! He can read on his own! He’s like TWENTY! 

Um … because my 11 year-old asked? Because I LOVE Harry Potter and am more than happy to re-visit the story?

I think the thing I love most about Harry Potter is the richness of the story. I’m one of those easily fascinated people, someone who positively craves details, and — curmudgeonly irritation over comma splices aside — Rowling’s vividly imagined and deeply nuanced world absolutely bewitched me 😉 when I first read Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone* years ago, before my kids were old enough for the books. As a knitter, one of the details which utterly charms me is the role knitting plays in the series: Hagrid knitting a large yellow something; Mrs. Weasley presenting knit jumpers* for Christmas; Fred and George fighting off hand-knit mittens; Hermione knitting hats for house-elves; Dumbledore wanting — above all else — thick woollen socks, and confessing a fascination with Muggle knitting patterns.

On the subject of knitting (and coincidentally continuing with the Harry Potter theme), I’m knitting yet another set of Hermione’s Everyday Socks (in what is not quite, but hints at, Gryffindor scarlet).

That would be my daughter’s Gryffindor scarf underneath my knitting. The Sorting Hat would definitely place her in Gryffindor; it would be Hufflepuff for her mother

In January, I had set a goal of one pair of socks per month, and although swimming lessons and soccer practices have afforded me some extra knitting time this summer, and although I continue to slot in knitting whenever I’m able (in between pancake flips, for example) I’m still finding that goal to be a bit too ambitious. I am continually torn: how best to spend my free evening hours, when my youngest has gone to bed. Although I’d like to be reading more (I’m almost halfway through Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca), the fact is, I love making things. I cannot imagine a life in which I am NOT making things.

On the subject of making things, my sewing continues, albeit very slowly now that the kids are out of school. My 17 year-old son has cleared his schoolwork out of the dining room and I’ve moved my sewing machine and serger to the window end of the table and set up the ironing board in front of the window. The light is MUCH better and I love looking out, snatching glimpses of green and growing things as I work at sewing or ironing or mending.

Details, details … the two boxes at the forefront are Dutch biscuit tins (which I have had *forever*); they house my spools of thread.

And lastly, I deliberately used the term work in my last sentence, even though the flow would have been better had I just said, “…as I sew or iron or mend.” I’ve just hit a how-the-heck-did-this-happen anniversary: twenty years ago, mid-July 1996, I went on maternity leave from my job as a pharmacist. The very day I started my maternity leave was the day my husband told me he had gotten the position he had been hoping for — the one in another province which would necessitate a move; the one he had assured his pregnant wife he would *never* get — setting in motion a chain of events which resulted in me not returning to my career. Twenty years of stay-at-home-motherhood is a long time to ponder the meaning of work, and — cough*whatasurprise*cough — I have a LOT of thoughts on this subject. I could do a whole (meandering, semantical, over-thinking) post on work … you know, if I were actually brave enough to wade into this quagmire on the internet …


*Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone and sweaters (and a myriad of other changes) in the U.S. editions…  The Americanization of these stories so got my detail-loving-goat that — even though we were living in the U.S. at the time — I bought our books on trips back to Canada.

8 thoughts on “Randomly, On a Summer’s Day

  1. So much in this post! Harry Potter got me thinking about some thing I saw online a few days ago about the attributes of individuals in different houses (your line about being a Hufflepuff), and I just wasted several minutes trying different online sorting quizzes to see which house I’d be in. (Seems to lean toward Ravenclaw for me. And that I spent time on those quizzes is likely confirmation of that.)

    I am envious that your 11-year-old still wants you to read aloud. That was about the age that reading aloud ended for us, and I really missed it. Hope you enjoy! I never got past book 4 myself. I was reading them back before they’d all been written. I got through the first 3, and then there was a long wait for #4. By the time it came out, my interest had waned and I’d forgotten details from the earlier ones. I keep thinking that some day I’ll get back to them and read the whole thing through from the beginning, but I don’t know if I will. My son did that a few years ago, though, (in about 2 weeks) and he really enjoyed it. Maybe when I retire!

    As for your thoughts about work, I’d love to hear them. I am on break right now, and as I said to another teacher last week, it’s amazing how just keeping us all alive and well is a full-time job. I have things to do every day. I’m never bored or idle. The difference is my life is being lived at a healthier, more reasonable pace. I am sleeping well. I am eating better. I feel better in every way. I think it’s because I’m not doing 2 full-time jobs.

    At any rate, it was really nice to hear your words this morning.

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    1. It’s funny — your comment about wasting time doing Sorting Hat quizzes has just nudged me even closer to Hufflepuff certitude … in other words, I’ve never actually taken a quiz, but I’m thinking my workhorse attitude would probably easily trump any intellectual Ravenclaw qualities I might possess 😦 . (I also have never “found the time” to take one of those personality tests that everyone seems to be talking about these days (the one in which you end up with four letters, the first of which is an I or an E for introvert or extrovert). Hmmm…who needs self-awareness when there’s work to be done? Whoops, that’s my father talking again, dammit 😉 ).

      My all-time favourite of the HP books is the third, and by the time I read it, I was totally hooked. I will admit that the fourth was not quite as enjoyable (although still good), and the fifth was — at times — just a bit of a slog. (Rowling was a bit too long-winded in places, and Harry at 15 was quite surly and more than a bit unlikeable at times). However, the sixth was fantastic, and the seventh … well, by then one just HAD to keep going … and it was a really, really good read and well worth the wait 🙂 . The stories do get more and more complex and layered as the series progresses; I personally think they’d be worth reading (as an adult) even without the FOMO/”what’s all the hype about” factor, but obviously that depends on who you are and what sort of books you like. My mother — in her 70s at the time — LOVED them; my best friend LOVED them, despite the fact that she couldn’t get her kids to read them; my SIL, on the other hand, had ZERO curiosity about the stories, despite the fact that her kids grew up at the same time as the books were being published and were totally obsessed with anything Harry Potter.

      I am SO very happy to hear that your “life is being lived at a healthier, more reasonable pace” and that you’re sleeping and eating better, Rita 🙂 ! And, “never bored or idle” … my goodness, that’s me as well. My long-churning thoughts do tend to find their way into posts, so it’s probably safe to say a post on work will get published sooner or later …

      Take care, Rita, and many thanks for the lovely comment 🙂

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  2. Ha! I love that you’ve never managed to find time to take the Myers-Briggs (in reading your comment) or the sorting hat quiz and yet you know you’d be a Hufflepuff. I landed in Hufflepuff the first time I took a quiz and a Ravenclaw the second. I can see both.

    I love the socks! What a pretty color!! I do like the Hermione pattern but I doubt I’ll do another…they took soooo much longer for me than just straight stockinette socks.

    I can’t wait to read your post on work. As I just finished up a day of washing and folding and putting away and vacuuming and dusting (which no one will even notice but me and will be completely negated by tomorrow afternoon), I’m always interested in the work thoughts of other stay at homers like myself. 🙂

    (And I love Harry Potter. I keep thinking I should read it aloud to my kiddos but I’m unlike you and Rita in that I absolutely HATE to read aloud. It’s too time consuming and clunky!)

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    1. I love that we get along so well, Kate, even though we’ve found we’re sometimes opposites 🙂 . Your comment about reading aloud being time consuming and clunky are kind of the exact reasons I LOVE reading aloud, although I spin it to “a great use of time” and “savouring every word”! When my kids were young we’d sometimes go to the local Barnes & Noble for story hour, and I always had a little twinge of, Oh, if only I could be a story lady (ahem, professionally, that is 😉 instead of just as an amateur for my little audience). (That would be part of my thwarted librarian dreams, I suppose!)

      With regard to the socks … I confess I love the Hermione pattern, because although they DO take longer, the pattern keeps the knitting more interesting for me. I would actually love to get some self-striping socks on the needles, but my daughter is determinedly “plain, non-wild socks, Mom, please”. (Once I have enough pairs for her, I’ll choose a striped yarn for myself…)

      I read somewhere that much of the household work a parent/partner does is invisible … except for when it’s NOT done. This can be just a little disheartening at times!

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  3. Hi there Marian, long time no comment! Sorry for my absence, but here I am now on holiday and with more time on my hands to just be – such a pleasure!
    It’s always interesting to look back and take the long view on our lives, and reflect on what is and what might have been. But in the end what really matters more is what is and what will be. No regrets, however much I wish that some things had been other.
    We are currently staying with two remarkable younger friends, who have had to face some real adversity in their young lives and for their futures, and who manage to live with grace and exuberance. I’m finding it inspiring and fun.
    And suddenly I thought of you because we’re in Quebec and seeing your part of the world (comparatively speaking) for the first time. So much to think about and enjoy! and so very different from our own lives.
    I hope you’re well and that your summer is working out ok with you and yours.

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    1. It’s always so good to hear from you, Deborah 🙂 .

      “It’s always interesting to look back and take the long view on our lives, and reflect on what is and what might have been. But in the end what really matters more is what is and what will be.” — Oh, this is SO true and such an important thing to keep in mind! My husband is one of those people who always (pretty much without fail) manages to do just this, and I admit I’ve often marvelled at his ability to maintain this positive/stoic/matter-of-fact attitude. Although I do still at times find my thoughts wandering to regrets and to what-could-have-beens, I’m happy to be able to say it’s not as frequent, and I’ve mostly managed to quiet that ruminating side of me.

      I’m so glad to hear you and Malcolm made it to Canada!! I hope you’re having a wonderful time and that you do a post about your adventures in Quebec 🙂 .

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  4. Hi Marian,

    I saw your comment on Rita’s latest post and headed over here to say hello, and discovered that I’d missed a post on your own blog.

    I’ve kind of stalled in the middle of Book 2 of Harry Potter, even though I am really enjoying the book. Too many other things pulling for my attention and of course now I’m obsessed with U.S. election coverage. Reading about Voldemort would probably be better for my mental health. I’m glad to know Book 3 was your favorite, that should provide some motivation for me to complete Book 2.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on work too, as well as to see what else you were working at sewing this summer.

    Mostly though I just came over here to say that I hope the fall is an easier time for you. Take care, Marian.

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    1. I’m so happy to hear you’re enjoying Harry Potter so far, Sarah! I remembered that you had selected the first one for your “book-a-month” challenge, and I was so hoping you’d like it well enough to want to continue with the series. (I don’t know what the heck it is with me and Harry Potter … it’s like I’m an evangelist who believes EVERYONE should read it (my son’s friend may very well be on the verge of telling me to “shut up about it already” because I keep bringing it up to him!)).

      “… now I’m obsessed with U.S. election coverage. Reading about Voldemort would probably be better for my mental health.” This made me laugh out loud. But oh my gosh, given the situation, I think it’s totally TRUE, unfortunately. I confess I have my head in the sand and haven’t been following the news for quite some time now, and as bad as that sounds (because I’m an adult and I should know what’s going on in the world), I just feel I can’t take any more right now.

      I know exactly what you mean about “too many other things pulling for my attention”; that’s where I’ve been for quite some time now. I haven’t felt this scattered since I don’t know when. I’ve been trying to work on a couple different posts but am not making much headway 😦 .

      I so appreciate you taking the time to read and to leave a comment, Sarah. As Rita said over on your site today, I’ve missed your voice, even while completely understanding the need to be quiet, no matter what the reason.

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