The Summer Olympics on Brady Street and other Travels From Home

We haven’t traveled this summer. Visits to church or Dollar Tree max out our resources and organizational skills.

But I’ve done a lot of traveling right here on Brady Street. Here are some of my travel adventures.

Buying Souvenirs at a Federal Building

The other day I almost got swept into a grievous and deadly mistake. I needed about 100 stamps for Anina’s birth announcements.

“Do you want two rolls of fifty?” the clerk asked me.

“Sure,” I said.

Unreal. Hideous. Inexcusable.

I was so close to walking out of that post office with generic, boring stamps, when for the SAME PRICE I could have lattes or Elmo, flowers, heavenly bodies, and painted barns. Thankfully, I pulled myself together in time.

“Actually, no,” I said. “I would like to see what you have.” So he pulled out THE BINDER with the plastic sleeves full of self-adhesive stamps. There’s never enough time to decide, but I finally managed to choose a nice bouquet of sheets. When I went to pay, I realized that some of the cutest ones were actually post card stamps. But I really couldn’t part with them, and I knew I would be able to use them sometime, so I got those too.

Seriously, in what other world can you pay one sum but pick any design you want? I’m definitely having the silvery astronaut stamps over the 1950s floral design. I’m sure they cost a lot more to produce too, but apparently we pay for that on April 15.

I feel like as long as I live in a country with cute stamps, all will be right with the world. Maybe the cute stamps are why the postal service is going broke. It’s hard to say. But, without fail I expand with rapture, and even nervousness, when it comes time to choose which stamps I want to take home with me. What if I pick the wrong ones? What if I get home and realize that the coffee stamps actually were cuter than the sun stamps? Does the post office take exchanges?

I could go on and on.

Drinking Global Tea in the Evenings

I can’t be thankful enough for the long sticks of cinnamon my cousin brought from Jordan. He said in Jordan, women drink cinnamon for forty days after giving birth. He explained how they prepare it. I’m not sure that I have it perfect, but here’s how I do it.

  • Boil water in pot.
  • Break pieces of cinnamon stick into water and simmer.
  • Dip out tea and lightly sweeten.

The next day, I refill the water and add more pieces of cinnamon bark, leaving the previous pieces in the pot, and boil again. There’s something so soothing about having an ongoing pot of cinnamon on the back of the stove.

Observing Nature From a Personal Porch

I’ve been on the porch a lot this summer, both with Anina and without. Trees surround us to a surprising extent for living in the middle of a city. Sirens howl. In my patch of sky, clouds and airplanes float, or haze hangs low and slow.

Sometimes, sitting on the porch, I think of other places. Amman, the city of seven hills. New York City, walking to the grave yard in the early mornings as the trash trucks trundled about the streets. Beirut, Lebanon, high above the Mediterranean.

But I realized something on my porch. If you can enjoy the scenery in your own neighborhood, it’s really a lot more comfortable than enjoying scenery miles from home. When I’m done drinking coffee on my porch, I can go in and cook a meal, versus finding a restaurant and spending more money. I can do laundry, rather than packing my bags for another leg of the journey. I can use my own internet rather than worrying that I might not have any. No battles with motion sickness. No waiting in line.

Home is a good place!

Watching the Summer Olympics on Brady Street

I really hate to give this much credit to black (destroyer) squirrels, but I can’t help it. I’ve never seen anything so majestic in my life.

I was standing by my kitchen sink again when my eyes were captured by the large tree behind our neighbors’ house. Or rather, what was in the tree.

An impossible game of tag.

A black shape springing on to a branch. Another one behind him, clinging to the barest of foot-holds. The first squirrel leaps, flying through the air, and lands on an impossibly skinny branch dozens of feet above the ground. The branch dips, but the squirrel survives, clinging, then runs on again.

One squirrel, two squirrels, three. No there’s another running up the trunk, with a fifth flying after him in pursuit. Impossible to count but is there a sixth, a seventh, an eighth? A giant game of tag in a huge tree, tossing in the wind. The leaves and branches of the tree are in constant motion. No target is predictable. No twig is stationary. Death, paralysis, broken bones. Surely, even for a squirrel these possibilities exist from 70 feet in the air.

But none of the squirrels seemed to recognize any risk. They leap. They dive. They jump. They fly. Just a whole-hearted pursuit of joy, an all-out game of tag at the highest level of gymnastics.

Do you travel from home?

These things reminded me that some of the greatest things in the world can be seen from the kitchen window or front porch or post office or the back of your stove. Can you relate?

I’ll post occasional photos of readers here with your permission. Today’s image is courtesy of my sister-in-law. She said she gave my nephew the choice to end his rest time early and go outside to play with his younger brother. Apparently that’s usually a preference. But this time he declined, since he was engrossed in the book. 🙂

Note: the paperback is also available from Amazon in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and a few other countries. When you order, they will print a book and send it to you. Of course, you don’t get stickers!

Can the boys escape the tunnel? 

Times are simpler in the 1980s. Terry, Gary, and Larry love their maple tree, their boat called the London, and the friendly face of the St. Joseph’s River. Gary finds comfort on the river, where he can use his upper body strength to row, and almost forget about his wooden leg and lost dreams. 

But nothing is simple when Mom spots suspicious characters in the empty house next door and suggests it may be time to move away. And nothing is easy when Dad and Mom assign the boys a summer project to learn about the fruit of the Spirit. 

Terry, Gary, and Larry set out to investigate the strange characters and prove that their neighborhood is safe. But then, the detective work backfires, and the boys are trapped.

Trapped in the Tunnel, Book One of the Brady Street Boys Indiana Adventure Series

9 thoughts on “The Summer Olympics on Brady Street and other Travels From Home”

  1. Thanks for educating me on the rhapsody of choosing pretty stamps😁. Sounds stressful. I wonder if the workers chuckle when you leave and refer to you as “that sweet stamp lady”. 😉

  2. Oh yes–I know all about the thrill of selecting stamps! Often I research availability online, hoping the local post office has whatever I’ve picked. It’s amusing when my husband goes for me, because usually I have him call so that I can choose. One time–unbeknownst to me–the clerk assured my husband that I would select the flower stamps, but I wanted winter scenes instead. 🙂

    1. Katrina Hoover Lee

      That’s great Christine! Can totally relate. Hadn’t thought about having my husband call me if I can’t go. Hee-hee. Fantastic!

  3. Ah yes… I love eyes that see the joys of home! I love travel and adventure away too, but if you have eyes to see the adventure of home, that is beautiful and the way of contentment.
    Also, I can verify your nephew’s enjoyment of your book. I stopped in and he came up to my car window immediately and said, “Hey, have you read my Aunt Katrina’s book yet? …Because I’m reading it and it’s SO INTERESTING!!! It’s the best thing I’ve ever read!”

  4. I like to buy my stamps online when I’m not getting a whole roll, because our small town post office rarely has much selection. So then I take as long as I want to pick a variety.

  5. Very relatable, Katrina. I love choosing “just-right” stamps when I go to the post office! Especially when it’s time for Christmas mail.

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