This is going to be a crazy summer. Crazy, in that there will be many comings and goings, some of them in a four-seat Cessna aircraft piloted by my spouse. Crazy, in that my son will spend his days zipping through the treetops of Harper's Ferry for his college internship. Crazy, in that I'm not sure which nights he will be sleeping here, in his comfortable bed, and which he will spend sleeping at his job, in a tent. Crazy, in that the population of our home will increase by one beagle, our son's dog, Molly.
And that's not all of it. It makes for chaotic domestic planning. The last time our now-adult son was visiting, I called him from the supermarket aisles to ascertain what he's eating these days. I didn't want to stock the fridge with stuff he didn't want. Breakfast cereal was a necessity. I named brands for him as I walked down the aisle: Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Froot Loops? Lucky Charms? Cap'n Crunch?
Cap'n Crunch! Yes! And milk!
I bought two boxes, one of which my son opened as if he had become half wolverine. I found the shredded result next to his empty, milk-sticky bowl on the kitchen counter.
And frozen mac-and-cheese! No matter that I begin my homemade version with a classic mornay sauce, made from scratch. Nothing compares to what Stouffer's sells. Certainly not to a young man who spends most of his year living with two other guys in off-campus housing. No sense for me to make an elegant version of this casserole dish. None at all.
But I am making my semi-famous bon bons. This is a recipe I invented for no-cook homemade candy, that I now make in varieties for every season. They're almost a nougat, for which the dough is made from surprising ingredients, entirely in the food processor. For spring, I will be making a batch of raspberry and one of pistachio, dipping them in white chocolate and finishing them with sanding sugar in the appropriate colors, pink and green. My son will likely reject them, but my friends and neighbors enjoy getting little boxes of candy for no reason.
Perhaps I will bring some to Four Seasons Books when I am there on May 10 to read from my anthology of short stories, "Cassoulet and Other Stories." It begins at 1 p.m. There will be refreshments provided by Mellow Moods, so I need not feed those in attendance. I may simply read, then sign books for those who choose to buy.
Some of the stories in "Cassoulet" have been published by literary magazines and some are new to publication. I hope I get to meet some of you folks there.
It's very exciting for me. After more than 30 years in journalism -- after more than 20 years of motherhood -- when my son went off to college, my brain opened up and fiction was there. I started writing short stories, after decades of declaring that I didn't know how. All of a sudden I was seeing characters and finding myself curious about what happens to them next. I wrote one story, and then another. I sent stories to magazines, that accepted them and put them in print. Sense memories that I had stored for years began to inform fictional situations for characters created from my imagination. I didn't know I could do that.