The Summer of Our Contentment

Dahlia Girl, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

So, I’m sitting in a parked car, doing yet another one of those 20-minute chauffeur trips for the progeny that turns into 85, and I’m bored.

Ahead of me is a van with writing on it:




Whoa, that’s cool. When I’m not sitting in cars, I’ve been reading the Tony Hillerman Navaho detective series, so my first thought on seeing these elemental words is,

“Harmony with nature. Hozro. So Navaho — just like in the books.”

Then I read the rest of the list:



Dry Rot.

Poof. So much for the harmony with nature part.

Thirty feet from the van, two scrubby guys take a break from FireWaterSewageMold to eat lunch, and life goes back to being boring again.

Actually, life isn’t boring, just these progeny-generated, Quickie Trippie things are.

“What’s the big deal about popping over to the grocery store and picking up some ice cream?”

It even sounds whiny on the page, doesn’t it?

Autumn Road, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

Twenty minutes there, 20 minutes back, 15 minutes in the store, and it’s the middle of the workday even though I don’t look like I work because my office is in my home and I dress casually to put it mildly but I did run a brush through my hair and slap on some makeup this morning.

Colleagues at home, I know you know what I’m talking about, even more so now because it’s summer and there are extra people in the office for the next couple months.

And if your extra people are like my extra people, they sleep late, want to know what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner, can’t drive, and need to be taken everywhere, NOW, and I am the only legal driver that they can find.

And wherever they’re going isn’t open yet; or whoever they’re meeting isn’t there yet; or there’s construction on the only road leading to their destination; or the town is setting up its annual Vintage Car Show and has closed every exit.

At least they are old enough now that I do not have to accompany them full time to wherever they are going: for years in the summer I braved the public swimming pool during its Free Time Afternoon Play.

Coastline, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

On lucky days, another mother wrested from the computer or filing cabinet would be there, and while we tread water and attempted to talk, the town’s under 12 population jumped, splashed, spit, sputtered, yelled, and “Marco!” “Polo!”ed around us.

Now and then the bored life guard monotoned, “Emily, quick whacking Jimsie on the back of the head.”

Personally, considering that Jimsie just jumped inches from our faces, screaming like a banshee (what is a banshee, anyway? And why do they scream?), I’d say Emily’s got a point here.

Nowadays, one of my own progeny is a lifeguard, not a bored one because she is watching those noisy obnoxious things like a benevolent hawk, and I toy with the idea of showing up for lap swim, but what if I do something wrong, like swerve over into the wrong lane or something?

Will I get yelled at by my own progeny?




They are powerful elements indeed, but not more so than the most dominating, unrelenting, unmitigating, unmerciful element of them all (no, not two-year-olds):


It’s something I never have enough of; it’s something I begrudge when I’m sitting in the car reading the side of a van owned by someone who seriously needs to edit; it’s something that passes by every day in a circuitous cycle that finds me surrounded by sopping wet screaming children one moment, then, in another, watching my very grown up former Flaxen Toddler level a swaggering bare chested 9-year-old Tom Cruise with The Look.

Breakfast, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson. Private Collection

That’s my Look. I perfected it on this particular progeny. It’s a bit of my legacy, so to speak.

So. Time passes. Someday my chauffeur duties will end, passed on to progeny with progeny of his or her own. Nothing I can do about circumstances — but I can adjust how I regard those circumstances.

Let this be the Summer of my Content as I walk towards Hozro — harmony with nature.

Just not the dry rot and fungus part.

About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She writes about life, art, and the art of life.
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8 Responses to The Summer of Our Contentment

  1. Judy Wood says:

    I *do* enjoy your posts, for the quality of expression, and for the strangely resonant (or should that be resonating?? or another word entirely??) thoughts, observations and weird bits of humour. Thank you.

    • I am honored, Judy — and I really like the weird bits of humor part. Success!

      Resonate (produce and fill with deep, reverberating sound) and resonant (strong and deep in tone) — they both work. Thank you!

  2. Jennifer says:

    Carolyn, I always enjoy your posts. Your observations on parenthood are thoughtful and funny! Are you collecting all of these posts to someday share with your “progeny”?

    • Thank you, Jennifer. Actually, I’m ambitious, and someday I want to collect the best into a book.

      I didn’t let the younger progeny read this particular one, as I’m sure the reaction wouldn’t be positive!

  3. Jana says:

    Stuck waiting in a car? but Carolyn, that is guilt free knitting time!

    And about the book, Blurb is a print-on-demand site that actually has a template called “blog book” which allows you to “slurp” your blog into book form. It doesn’t appear to work with, but does work with other, um, blog thingie set-ups. (What is the noun for a site like WordPress??)

    • Jana — how well I know that this is prime knitting time, which is why I was kicking myself for rushing out without my knitting.

      Where was my mind?

      I’ll look up Blurb — thank you. I’ve always called the blog thingie set-ups Web Hosting Sites, but I like your term better. Looser. More relaxed.

  4. Jana says:

    Does “Web Hosting Site” also mean “Blog Hosting Site”? Guess I thought there was a special term.

    And have you ever read Stephanie Pearl McPhee’s blog? I have every one of her books in addition to checking her blog almost daily. She is completely consumed by knitting and says we should always have a traveling project in a bag by the door. She keeps a sock in progress in her purse at all times! She also believes that knitting keeps her from killing people in those horrible waiting situations. 😎

  5. Jana: Nope — you’re right: Blog Hosting Site as opposed to Web Hosting Site. My brain stopped for a minute, but my mouth went on.

    Thank you for the link; I enjoyed traveling to it and reading a bit. I do usually have projects on hand that I grab and go, but sometimes I’m also grabbing the Toddler, her many many traveling bags, the keys (I’ve found these to be necessary many times), my purse, stacks of papers that are somehow related to errands, my phone which is never in my purse because Tired of Being Youngest commandeers the thing for endless texting — it goes on and on.

    And if the errand comes mid-way through my writing time, then my brain is still at the keyboard.

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