Summer time

Summer, glorious Summer, it's like you've just arrived, and you're practically over already.

In late May, the three months of summer stretch out before me like a shimmering I-10, just going and going, with promises of Buck-ees. I'll see all my friends, clean out my closet, start that knitted blanket I promised Younger. And now it's July. I've seen a couple of pals, my closet looks exactly the same, and it's way too hot to start a knitting project.

So, what have I been doing for the past month, my precious first third of summer? Well, there was Camp at my pre-school. Both of my boys work the camp as helpers, or as Younger would say, "So, I'm paid to play with the little kids?" And Older got to practice driving there every morning and back home every afternoon. And I got to hold on to the door armrest. I know it's cliche to talk about how scary it is when your 15 year old starts learning to drive. You know why it's cliche? Because it's all true EVERY SINGLE TIME!!! And while I appreciate how Older does not shy away from any driving/highway/traffic ordeal, it's really taking a toll on me.

On the plus side, my core is getting such workout When I'm not pressing my right foot hard onto the floorboard, I'm clenching my stomach like a third arm is going to emerge and take the wheel. And, I've never liked driving, but now I look forward to it. I actually look forward to driving my own car because I know that for these next 20 minutes, I will not be nervous at all.

Also, this summer we are eating fried chicken. It's our summer theme. See, almost every summer, we pick a food, hamburgers one year, gelato another, and we find every restaurant in Houston that serves this particular food, and we try it all. This summer we are touring Houston's fried chicken.

We started with my Husband's fried chicken because it's our favorite. It became our favorite about 4 years ago when he told me he had a hankering for some fried chicken.

"Okay, KFC? Or Popeye's?"

"No, I'm going to make it."

Several beats.

"Can you do that?"

For me, frying is only done in restaurants. Just like for my kids, Play-dough was only done at school. These are not features of home.

But that night my husband presented us with a big platter filled with fried chicken. Older took a bite and said, "Why is this the first time I'm having this?"

So far, we have tried The Barbecue Inn, which has been serving fried chicken for the past 70 years. It is this really old feel restaurant with kindly, older waitresses who still wear the uniform of a black dress and white apron and who deliver plates of sliced white bread to your table. I overheard one elderly gentleman tell another patron that he had been eating at The Barbecue Inn for 40 years. Then he shook his head in that disappointing way and added darkly, "The chicken fried steak isn't as good anymore." We thought the fried chicken was terrific with its crispy, thin batter, and Younger did not notice anything wrong with his chicken fried steak.

Next on our tour was Krisp Bird and Batter. Check out their website - it's all about their sustainable approach, pasture raised chickens, everything is artisanal and handcrafted. Do I even need to mention that the crafted, artisanal sustainability is local? Surely not. Here's what else you should know: Krisp is so delicious! Like, 4 out of 5 drumsticks. Or whatever it is we're using to keep track. DIY Maven Ann and her family do something similar every summer, only they create this well defined poster board (could I call it a vision board?) with all the restaurants listed, as well as their pros and cons, and an artistic rating system.

Anyway, at Krisp, I ordered the Fried Chicken and Waffle sandwich. The waffle was a delightful addition. Husband and Older ordered the Korean fried chicken sandwich, and Younger had Chicken Tenders. And we shared Tater Tots (again, handcrafted), Waffle Fries, and Queso Waffle Fries. As in, "Ma'am, would you like homemade queso on those Waffle Fries?"

Younger is heading off to Shiny Camp next week, so we'll wait till he's back to try more chicken. Speaking of camp, this summer is a little too full of it. Like, my camp budget went crazy.

Of course, I don't really have a camp budget; I just send each boy away for a week. Older goes to Colorado with the church Youth. Younger goes to a Shiny Camp that employs a full time photographer, so I can keep up with all his goings-on. But this summer, as you know, Younger joined the Scouts. And he had to go to Summer Scout Camp. To earn these Merit Badges. The other new Scout moms and I just looked at each other, "Ok, wait, what? I don't know about this..." But the Scout adults in the brown uniforms said this was a good and necessary thing, so in the end, we all signed our kids up. And dropped them off in the parking lot at 10:00 p.m. so they could ride a bus to New Mexico. And my husband picked him close to midnight a week later. Right before taking Older to his camp drop-off at 6:00 the next morning. I was out of town, but don't think I necessarily missed this; Older and I were texting at 5:00 that morning because he couldn't find some stuff that he needed.

Last thing is my Summer Book Review. I've been reading a spate of British books this past month.

First is Ruth Ware's The Death of Mrs. Westaway. This is a suspenseful mystery filled with family secrets, inheritances, and Gothic magpies. I don't want to spoil anything, so know that it's a captivating read that twists and turns all the way to the end.

Next is Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behavior by Kate Fox. What to make of this laugh out loud actual study of English culture? Dr. Fox is a real, honest-to-goodness anthropologist who opted to not study faraway tribes in remote locations, probably because there are no pubs open in those villages. Instead, she studies her own people to answer questions like: why do English people talk about the weather so much, how one can tell another's class station by the manner in which they eat peas, the importance of the pub. You can read this book because you adore most things English like me, or you can read it as a sort of helpful guidebook, like Rick Steves.

Finally, my new mystery series is Agatha Raisin. Again, British, these books take place in the Cotwalds, where former PR agent Agatha Raisin has retired. Trying to get involved in Village Life, Agatha enters a Quiche Contest with a quiche she did not bake, and the judge dies of poison. In an effort to save face, Agatha decides to solve the mystery. The first book is Agatha Raisin and The Quiche of Death. Incidentally, these books have been turned into a show broadcasted on Acorn TV. Of course, they are completely different from the books; Scottish Ashley Jensen plays Agatha, and everything else is unrecognizable. Who reads a good book and thinks, "This is so great! I'm going to make a movie out of this. I'll change everything." And yet, I completely enjoyed the show, binge watching the entire season in 2 nights.

Oh, and I've started a new book. A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell. Gah! That's what I have to say about this book so far.

Gah! It's about a hot mess of a blogger. Her mommy blogging makes me cringe, so I'm writing this post with a super critical eye.

The movie is coming out with Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively. The trailer prompted me to get the book.

I mean, read the book. It's twisty and turn-y, and I don't know who I'm cheering for, but I can't stop reading it.

Aaaand I've just finished the book. I'm going to have nightmares for weeks. I know for some, that's a recommendation. But I am well and truly disturbed.

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