It’s New Stuff Time in the retail world. At the store, that means taking pictures, posting them on the websites, and thinking up clever ways to use the new things in the February workshops. At home, I received a package from Central Office with the coming season’s recipes, so we will be practicing them.

Last season, I started a bit late, so I did this mad marathon when all the kids were home for Labor Day weekend. This season, I have six weeks before the shows begin, so we are incorporating them into our regular meals. The favorite so far involves tubes of crescent rolls. These things have no food value whatsoever, and lots of objectionable chemicals, but Central Office can make them really appealing. Both times I’ve made this recipe, I’ve thought about how I could simply make my own pastry — with whole grains. — and keep the almond and berry topping, and have a reasonably healthy item, but I haven’t gone to the trouble of doing so. And I might not. There are a lot of recipes to try out.

The new catalogs arrived as well. They have outdoor entertaining items. Some of those things I actually want for myself. We’ve talked before about buying objects for your fantasy life. When I see the jewel-toned outdoor dishes and the clever stakes which hold wine bottles and glasses on the lawn without their getting kicked over, I remember occasions when we took picnics to Shakespeare in the Park, or long summer afternoons in a chaise longue under the plum trees. I can see myself in some sort of Gatsby-like gathering, with laughter and ice cubes tinkling in the soft evening air. Filmy tea gowns and ascots might be involved.

The kids point out how rare these occasions are. Cooking outdoors is pretty common around here, but it’s either in the woods, camping, or a matter of dashing out into the oppressive heat to grab the grilled food and bring it in where there aren’t so many mosquitos. Not to mention the fact that we have three dogs and a basketball hoop in the backyard and no lawn furniture at all. Who, they ask, am I kidding?

I don’t know. Maybe if I had those objects, and was practicing Triple Citrus Mojitos (white rum optional) and Watermelon and Peach Salsa with Cayenne Chips, there would be a startling transformation in my leisure habits.

This kind of thinking, I believe, explains why so many people buy cookie cutters from Martha Stewart. Evening bags, too. It’s a magic spell. It probably doesn’t work.

Having done a little bit of work, I went for a walk in the park while #2 son was at gymnastics, and then set out for the rehearsal of the choirlet.

This is a fun group to work with. We have two people with backgrounds in directing, and me with a long background in being directed, so we are able to have proper rehearsals, instead of just singing the piece from front to back and hoping that it sounds okay. Everyone jumps in with suggestions about harmonies, and dynamics, and ways to vary the verses, and no one whines. It’s refreshing.

I was able to add some propaganda. Someone said it would be okay if we got the beginning and the ending of the Rutter piece right, and I made an impassioned speech on how we had plenty of time to get the whole thing right, and it would be beautiful. The amount of passion I put into that speech would have been appropriate if I had been hoping to do well in the South Carolina primaries, but I fear that I will have limited opportunities for propaganda, and I want to get it in while I can. I am not going to be free to rehearse with these ladies all the time.

It is possible that they will feel relieved when I am not there. However, I trust that there will be, at the back of their minds, a sense of discomfort when they want to make illegal copies, and a nagging feeling that they ought to try to be on key. If so, I will have done my part.

After the rehearsal, I hung out with my family and worked on Erin (this is Erin from Alice Starmore’s Celtic Collection, with shaping from the Handy Book of Sweaters, and who knows whether that will work). I got to the point at which I was supposed to begin Band A again, but the new shaping means that there is no longer room for Band A. I asked the boys what they thought I should do. Repeat one of the other, smaller bands? Find a new, smaller chart from another sweater in the same book and hope it meshes well?

“I don’t know,” said #1 son. “That sweater is so loud, I can’t hear myself think.” He then offered me an elfin grin and said, “Get it? Get it?”

I felt feverish last night, and was hoarse, but I feel a bit better today. I plan to take it easy this afternoon, and I expect I will be fine tomorrow.