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The Magpie Diary: June 9, 2024.

By: Jen Shoop

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I returned to my poetry-reading habit this week. It invites — demands — stillness for brief periods of 10, 15 minutes — another way of practicing yutori. Any more and my mind fizzles, an overheated engine, before wandering the back roads. Which is to say, I begin to drive through non-poetic parts, like logistics for school pick-up, what’s for dinner tomorrow, did I switch the laundry?, etc. I read Wendell Berry this week. I’ve loved his poem “The Peace of Wild Things” for some time now — Mary Oliver-esque, and his Asphodel phrase “the forethought of grief” impressed itself so firmly on me that it gave shape to the ache of knowing Tilly was going to die, and soon — but didn’t know much about him or his back catalog. He has an interesting personal history, having gone from prestigious fellowships at Stanford and in Paris to cultivating corn and raising sheep on a 117-acre farmstead in Kentucky. I love the embedded naturalism of his writing — his poetry is a palmarius of place-feel. But the lyric that resonated most with me this week was “Be Still in Haste,” a still-waters-run-deep ode to present-mindedness:

How quietly I
begin again

from this moment
looking at the
clock, I start over

so much time has
passed, and is equaled
by whatever
split-second is present

from this
moment this moment
is the first

The line breaks and syntactical inversions suggest the impermanence of time, the way past, present, future collect and overlap, but mainly reminds us that we have today. That we can start a new 24-hour period at any time. That yesterday was not the final draft. That nothing changes if nothing changes. That the whole sky is ours. That we can change right now, today, and with nobody’s permission. I must often remind myself of the latter, inclined as I am toward self-imposed rules and people-pleasing. I can read this book, prefer that order, skip this song, change my mind just because.

Onward, onward —

(Wearing head-to-toe Anthro: shirt, hat, shorts, sandals.)

Also this week: my baby turned five. We had the best, simplest birthday at home — he requested steak and fries for dinner followed by an ice cream cake. Mini decorated the patio table with crepe paper, party hats, and swizzle sticks, and we listened to the “Trolls Band Together” soundtrack on repeat (his favorite). Mr. Magpie caught the photo below of him looking up at me — a golden moment if I’ve ever had one.

On Saturday, Lan and I went out to dinner at Aventino — IMO, the best restaurant in Bethesda. Sophisticated menu, beverage program, interior. Great waitstaff. We sat at the bar (our preference) for an early dinner, and were home and in bed by nine. Perfect.

We continued to celebrate our five year old with a snakes and cake party on Sunday. (If you’re local, you must check out The Reptile Guys and specifically request Walter — he was incredible! He brought by tons of lizards, snakes, and other reptiles and offered a funny, interactive, and educational performance that transfixed twelve 5 year olds for 45 minutes. No small feat!). Below: Hill with a spiny-tailed lizard and Cheetoh fingers/mouth. It was beautiful out, so we spread a few picnic blankets on our front lawn and had the “show” outside, which suited everyone (including the animals) just fine. I was neglectful of photo-taking, but there were some fun details I wish I’d snapped, including these adorable snake cups, these sturdy leaf-print plates and these metallic leaf-shaped ones, this enormous stuffed boa (my “centerpiece”), this “pin the tongue on the cobra” game, and these inflatable snakes. For party favors, I filled a basket with various age-appropriate/early reader snake books (like this and this) and let each child pick one. I know it’s not as exciting as a proper goody bag (several of the kids asked where they were), but I am personally tired of throwing away all those little plastic toys in periodic purge-fests. They just clutter my home! Books never go to waste! I made Stella Park’s chocolate cake and milk chocolate frosting from scratch (labor of love – I’m pretty sure none of the kids would have noticed if I’d used a boxed mix, but we enjoyed them for days afterward), and mini helped me put together this playlist for the party. Sharing here, because it’s full of party music that your kids will know and love (with a few of my favorites sprinkled in), but it’s none of the Cocomelon/Kidbopz drivel!

Hill is of course wearing Oso and Me top and shorts — my favorite! Below, Hill dutifully working on his favorite gift he received: this Lego space station set. He worked on it around the clock for several days, waking at 6 to get started and sprinting upstairs after school to continue. I can’t believe how focused and determined he was — he completed the entire thing himself and then beamed as we descended on his room to analyze and ask questions.

Also this week: enjoyed several veggie and havarti sandwiches, availing myself of bounty from Mr. Magpie’s garden. There is something deeply satisfying about clipping some lettuce and herbs for lunch from our own backyard. Landon has the happiest bed of lettuce in particular — deer tongue, romaine, green leaf. The secret to a great veggie sandwich is Duke’s mayonnaise, in case you’re wondering.

Above and below, wearing pieces from Sezane’s short-lived collection with Momoni (this dress, these shorts). Most of the collection sold out so quickly but sometimes they do restock with returns, so keep an eye out if you liked either of these pieces, or you can shop the remaining items here — such great tile-print patterns in fun summer colors. You could just dive right into them! Major Mediterranean vibes. Wearing my favorite reasonably-priced raffia fisherman sandals above, too!

Currently hooked on Dr. Diamond Metacine’s Instafacial plasma. They generously sent me their full skincare set, which costs a pretty penny, but I was dying to try after Courtney Grow insisted it’s as effective as Botox. I don’t know about that claim, but I can say it has noticeably firmed my skin and shrunk my pores since I started using two weeks ago. I use in conjunction with Vitamin C in the morning, as I don’t think it delivers much glow/vitality but it does firm things up.

Lastly, beautiful hydrangea in the neighborhood (I just learned that the color of the buds relate to the acidity in the soil!) and homemade pina coladas. I used the recipe 2/3 of the way down in this article. They don’t specify how much ice to use if blending (which I strongly recommend), so my contribution: I used about 2 cups for a single cocktail, and it turned out perfectly. Blend for longer than you think you need to.

Onward into the week!

P.S. I’m always updating my shop, Shopbop hearts, and Amazon store.

P.P.S. Impressions of the lost.

P.P.P.S. Be not afraid.

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2 thoughts on “The Magpie Diary: June 9, 2024.

  1. Wendell Berry novel rec: Hannah Coulter. Has a vibe really similar to Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety. Both actually feel really well-suited to early-summer weather and all-around laziness 🙂

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