Friday, July 10, 2009

Blog catch-up

Yup, haven't blogged in more than a month. Ah, me. Haven't done much of any writing, partly because Lily has been out of school since the first week in June and camp ended early, 2:30, or else she didn't have camp. Here's some notes about June:

Bement graduation. Lily was required to go and wanted me to go too. The kids not graduating wore their uniforms, school blazer, white collared shirt, khaki skirts/pants, and made two rows up the sidewalk. All the graduates walked between them, one by one. The best part of the ceremony was the red-tailed hawks circling above the whole time, watching us. At one point the third grade sang a song (it sounded fabulous, but I was told later that the tape they sang along to included a whole choir of kids; disappointing)and at the end, a couple hawks gave their haunting cry. Go to this link on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and scroll down to listen to their call. Best part of the day for me.

My 30th high school reunion: I graduated from Milton Academy in 1979, and was really happy to be able to go back this June for reunion. I wish more people showed up, although I was happy to see the ones who did. Unfortunately, two women I really wanted to see didn't come until the evening, and we had already left.

Dave and Lily were highly bored and won't come back again, although I was very happy to show the place to Lily. It was an essential part of who I am; it was solace and comfort at a time when I was troubled, not to mention an extraordinary education, and my teachers and the other adults there were devoted and fabulous. I didn't love every single one, but I adored many. Three of my very favorite teachers were there this day, the three who always go to reunion, Sarah Wehle, my Latin teacher, John Banderob, my algebra teacher, and my counselor Ellie Griffin. I am so grateful to these people, and to Milton in general.

Lily's June consisted of art camp for two weeks, which she always enjoyed. One of the few (only?) camps that opens the second week in June, for the private school kids. Thank god! Then she was off for two weeks and we drove to Washington DC and back over four days. We stayed with our friends Anne and Jamie, whose daughter Grace was one of Lily's first friends. They met when they were a year old, at preschool. They hadn't seen each other in a couple of years but they picked right back up and had a great time visiting.

I saw not a thing in DC; I was there to see my friends, and decided to skip the sights, most of which I've seen several times. So my friend Betsy came over for breakfast with our hosts, and then, while our friends took Lily to the Air and Space Museum, Dave and Betsy and I went to Politics and Prose, the best bookstore I've ever been in. We met our friends Nancy and Eric -- I met Betsy the first day of school when I was a freshman at Johns Hopkins, and Nancy was her roommate. They stayed roommates while I dropped out but we've all stayed close ever since. It was wonderful just to chat and visit for a couple of hours.

DC-Baltimore-New Jersey. On the way back home we stopped in Baltimore to spend a night with Dave's cousin and family. Lovely! Then another night, this time in New Jersey, with my cousin and family, and then breakfast with my father and stepmother. All this driving was helped considerably by our brand-new GPS, which we have been saving for for some time. Maps make you far more aware of your surroundings, and more independent. But there's something to be said for a GPS, especially when you are driving city streets. We had a couple of hours to kill so we stopped at the Baltimore Art Museum just before closing and caught the phenomenal Cone sisters' collection of Matisse and other works. Lovely! And lovely to show Lily and Dave yet another school I'd gone to, albeit briefly. But the people I met there have stayed my friends ever since.

Two weeks off. I was a little anxious about having two weeks off with Lily and nothing scheduled besides this trip. But we had this trip, and I got a sitter a couple of days so I could go to yoga. We went to visit my mother and Don for a night just before the 4th, lovely to see them as always. Lily and her cousin Jonah went to dinner at Friendly's with Don, and I made the mistake of saying she could get anything she liked. So two orange sodas, chicken fingers, fries, and an ice cream sundae later, she was very sick to her stomach. She didn't lose it all but I gather it was close.

More reunions were up next up for me. My friend Susan from high school, one of the women I'd wanted to see but hadn't, made the drive from Gloucester, on the north shore of Massachusetts, for the afternoon and dinner. I cannot say how enormously flattered I was and am. I was so touched and pleased. The weather was crappy so we sat on the sofa while Lily was distracted by TV, and talked and talked and talked. Susan has been in construction management but is making the transition to counseling. She stayed for dinner and then drove home. What a wonderful gift!

And I was only to be given yet another, similar gift. Another friend from my class at high school who lives in Idaho couldn't come to reunion but was visiting her family in Brookline on her way to New Hampshire. So she and her kids drove a couple of hours out of their way to have lunch with me and Lily. Again, what a gift! Molly is a French teacher at her local Waldorf school and raises sheep and knits incredible things. Her girls were wonderful.

Thank you, friends. I am honored to have you in my life.

Camping was next up. This was last week, the week of the 4th, and you may remember it poured all the time. We were to go camping with friends at Myles Standish State Park in S. Carver, southeastern Massachusetts. But our friends had a medical emergency and had to cancel and we were anxious about all the rain. Dave had given me a new, very sturdy tent for my birthday, so we decided to take a chance and give it a test drive. As it turned out we were on a bluff just above Barrett's Pond, if you know the park, and while it was incredibly windy it never rained.

Dave had also gotten a hammock, and although I was worried about Lily being bored without kids for three days, she read in the hammock almost the entire time. We hiked a little and got lost. We swam in the pond. We sat in the sun and tried to dry out from being soggy and moldy for all of June. We drove into Plymouth twice, once on the night of the Fourth to see fireworks, and once on our way home on Sunday to go Plimoth Plantation and Mayflower II. Oh, and Plymouth Rock. (That was amusing; a smallish boulder surrounded by a colonade, designed by McKim, Mead, and White, with a grate on the ocean side to let the tide in. Dave noticed it had split so someone had patched it with cement. Silly!)

The ship and the rock were pretty lame, but the plantation was pretty cool, for two reasons. One, they've tried to modernize the truth about how the Pilgrims actually were an early wave of the genocide of the Native People living here already. They have a Wampanoag village with Native people wearing authentic clothes and doing authentic chores and crafts, such as cooking, beading, and making a dugout canoe (with fire). Those people are not role-playing.

But then you go down the path and meet people dressed in 17th century clothes role-playing the Pilgrims. They are specific people and they have the accent and the entire backstory down cold. I was given parenting advice by two women (one was a very pregnant Pricilla Alden) daubing clay on the walls of a new chicken coop (the less labor a child does, the more the mother does) and got into several conversations with Feare Allerton, I think her name was. Her father was Brewster, and my friend Sylvia is a descendent. Dave took our photo so I could send it to Feare's "cousin" in New Amsterdam.

Years ago I met Emily Dickinson in the Concord Inn, in Concord, Massachusetts, and when without thinking I told her I'd flown there she laughed and said, In what, a hot air balloon? So this time I tried to have a conversation with Feare on her terms. We discussed midwifery, and where I had come from (100 miles west by carriage "but there are no roads!" I said we made do, but I kicked myself later for not saying, "you'd be surprised") and her a-forementioned cousin in New Amsterdam.

I kept going away and then coming back, and at the end after we'd said goodbye, I turned back quickly and said, "You're very good!" She gave me a big grin and said, "And you are a wonderful guest!" That made my day. I told the woman at the gift shop about her and asked her to convey my compliments. These people aren't actors, apparently, they are just local people who are very big history buffs. They read histories about the time, and primary sources from the time, and an newbie works with an experienced person, and sometimes they switch and have to learn an entire new accent. I was so impressed. She was fun.

Camp today. Finally, June has ended, and so has most of the rain, and Lily started at Camp Norwich, the Y camp she went to last summer. She loves it, and I gotta say, she has really matured this year. She sounded accepting and willing about everything. She says some kids are kind of icky, but she can handle them -- and tonight she noted that kids that can be icky at school can be really nice at summer camp. She got a part in the play, Really Rosie, and she's playing Bonnie, as in One Was Johnny (but the cast is mostly girls so they changed it).

Lily is truly growing up. She is playing two instruments this summer, continuing with flute and starting piano. She is also doing a couple of pages of math four or five times a week without complaining. She is helpful. She is very, very tall, almost as tall as I am (probably 5-2 now), and she can sit in the front seat, per doctor's orders (at least five feet tall).

And, she has pierced ears. That's a story I should blog, it was pretty cool. I promise to try to put more photos up here, like of Lily. And I want to do a little photo essay of Chance, our cat. Stay tuned. Oh, and I should talk about the New Century Theatre, our local summer stock subscription.

One final point: Harry Potter 5 opens on Wednesday and I am very sorry I won't be in Brooklyn to watch the first showing with my friends Charlene and Alyssa. I saw 3 with them, and 4 with Char, and it was a wonderful tradition, much like volunteering at the Community Bookstore the night the 5th book was released. But, as Tom Lehrer says, I digress.

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