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Sunday, July 31, 2011

High Summer

We're wallowing in it right now - that hot middle section of the summer season that beats you down to a panting slug ... do slugs pant? I assume they have lungs....  We've had about a dozen days of 90+ temperatures - the plus creeping over the 100 mark at times - and yes. I know. I'm in the south. What do I expect. Well ... I expect this but I would prefer some California weather - cool crisp days and breezy nights that suggest a blanket. Ah well. Secretly (and not so secretly at that, if I'm posting it here) I am proud that I can endure Virginia's summers. And at this juncture, I know my favorite Autumn is not far away.

My favorite 9 year old cousin was visiting last week, the last week of the summer reading club. Our final Tuesday program was the most wonderful play put on by the Traveling Jones Theater - a fast pace introduction to American literature .... something you might think beyond my elementary school age audience. Only you would be wrong if you thought so. Most of these really great stories can be enjoyed on multiple levels - and even Poe was introduced with enough bounce and energy to hold my little guys spellbound
without scaring them.

The whole week was packed with activities because Cousin F and I like to do so many of the same things. In a way it was a repeat of the fun last month - with water color painting and sewing and reading but this week we spent a LOT more time in the river. We also had LD and Cousin L so we could play Marco Polo and Blind Man's Bluff and VirginiaBeach. What? You don't know how to play VirginiaBeach? That's a game invented by BD. First you submerge the canoe. Then two people ... preferably, but not necessarily, under 100 lbs ... sit in it, one at each end, legs beneath the struts. Then everyone else stands around the canoe and shoves it back and forth lengthwise. With each change of direction, the water splashes up into the face of the person at one end, then the other ... and eventually you splash all the water out of the canoe. It's the sort of game that makes kids squeal with delight. It also takes a couple of strong adults to do the shoving ... good upper body workout.

The highlight of the week was an evening at the races ... This was my first, and so far only, Groupon purchase, bought way back before Daddy died, when Sister and I decided it was about time we got together for some fun. We hook up often to care for our parents but it was making our relationship more of a business partnership. We needed a little lightness. Also, I'd never been to Colonial Downs, although it's been open about a decade. As a Groupon newbie I misunderstood the instructions and bought 4 tickets instead of two. Or perhaps the Fun Angels were directing me so that I'd have enough tickets to take both little girls. We had a blast learning how to read the racing form, getting tips from my horsey sister and B-i-L, and eating way too much food.

The coupons came with a free $2 bet for each person. Now, I am not a better - I actually get bored with betting in about 60 seconds - though I loved picking out a horse I thought would win and cheering him on. The girls were fascinated and pretty good at it too, so I was really glad they lost. It's better that they learn early that the fun part is being with friends, watching beautiful animals, and eating good food. We all lost actually and were philosophical about it. The girls got the message.

I took Friday off so I could be with my guests - and we could play and swim and hike and paint and sew ... all of which we did. And then we entertained BH with watermelon and tuna salad. And then watched White Christmas because it was so hot.

We took Cousin F home yesterday. Once I got close to the city I was flooded with memories about the last time I was making this trip ... the last few times ... when we were saying goodbye to Daddy. How weird it feels to realize it was less than a month ago - that it was in July  - that it is still July.  It was a sad feeling, realizing that I won't ever go see him again. There won't be any more snappy quips, no more opportunities to push him around in his wheel chair, no more flipping through photo albums with him. I hate it that those times are gone. I hate it that there are neighborhoods that I won't visit again because ... there won't be anyone to visit. But there is a comfort here too - this feeling of rightness and completion - with Daddy no longer in a failing situation, but somewhere else - his soul set free. I'll probably always feel nostalgic about certain streets and neighborhoods but new memories will layer on top of these tender ones. I know that. Just not there yet.

And now, on August eve, the house is almost empty. LD will be here another day before he heads out west, and we'll be down one man and one dog. How quiet everything will be. How different. Whatever will I do in all this space - with all this emptiness?

Hmm. Well.

Just you wait and see.


  1. I happen to believe White Christmas is a perfect movie just about any time of the year. The best things happen while you're dancing! (<3 Danny Kaye!)

    And my elementary school took us to see Tell Tale Heart on stage when I was in I think fourth grade - I fell in love with Poe then and ever since. TTH and Black Cat are still my favorites!

  2. bess, it's a process, i know that sounds trite but it is. i couldn't go home again after everything that happened. maybe that is a good thing... prevents you from being too stuck in the past?

    we watch halloween stuff in july, for two reasons...1) i always made the halloween stuff in july for the late september/october shows and 2) it's so much cooler watching sleepy hollow with the shimmering yet overcast grays..
    i can almost smell the fall leaves