Comings and Goings

North Comes Home 

After that first weekend, North managed to come home the next two as well, by volunteering to be a bus counselor. Saturday of their second weekend home it was very hot, the first hundred-degree day of the summer. We spent it thusly: Beth was up shortly after dawn to go kayaking, I went swimming at Piney Branch pool, the kids watched the last two episodes of Dr. Who, Beth and North had lunch at Cava, everyone went to see Inside Out 2, Noah and I roasted zucchini, tomatoes, and feta for dinner and everyone went out for ice cream at Everyday Sundae in the District. It was on that list of twelve best places to get ice cream in the D.C. metro area that has been guiding our ice cream choices this summer. I got blueberry cheesecake. It was good, but not exceptional.

The next Friday, North came home with a sprained ankle and without their phone because they dropped it into a latrine at camp. Because they weren’t up for much walking, we decided not to go to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which we’d been considering, and Beth and North spent a lot of time while they were home setting up their new phone. For the record, this was the second phone they lost in a month, so they volunteered to pay for half of it and we took them up on it.

That Saturday North also hung out with Maddie, Noah and I roasted radishes and fried tofu for dinner, and we went to Dairy Godmother in Alexandria, Virginia. This was the longest trek we’d made for ice cream so far. This place is famous for its custard (though it also sells sorbet and vegan ice cream), so we thought that’s what we should order. There are only three custard flavors every day—vanilla, chocolate, and whatever the flavor of the day is. My blood sugar was on the low side when we arrived, so I splurged on a sundae—chocolate custard with marshmallow sauce and sour cherries. It was an excellent combination of flavors. I was quite pleased with it. We have now visited all the top-rated ice cream venues—it was a three-way tie—one each in Maryland, the District, and Virginia. This has been a fun project.

The next morning, Beth drove North to the camp bus on her way out of town, because she was off on her own trip…

Beth Goes to Wheeling

Beth spent another week with her mom. She worked, visited with relatives, road-tripped with her friend Michelle to Morgantown, and spent a lot of time in her mom’s condo’s pool. I sent her off with a pint of homemade sour cherry sauce and I got a lot of compliments about it from Beth’s mom and Michelle.

Noah and I were on our own for six days. We worked and watched a few episodes of Angel and Scrapper. I started writing postcards again after a long hiatus. I did a batch reminding Florida voters to renew their enrollment in the vote-by-mail program and another for a school board candidate (also in Florida) who is running against a Moms for Liberty candidate. It soothes my election-related anxiety a little to be doing something, even if it’s for a down ballot race. Because if the unspeakable does happen, who’s in office at the state and municipal level is going to matter. (Well, it always does, but you know what I mean.)

Noah and I Go to a Parade 

Noah and I went to Takoma’s Fourth of July parade. We used to go almost every year, but between covid cancellations (2020 and 2021) and travels (2022 and 2023) we haven’t been since 2019. I enjoyed it. I always do—the painted rooster statue on wheels (the rooster is the symbol of Takoma), the papier mâché shark representing a swim team, the UFO and aliens just because, drummers from various cultures (Scottish, Japanese, and Caribbean), and seeing Jamie Raskin, our congressional representative. If you’re not a Marylander and you’ve heard of him, it’s probably because he was the impeachment manager during Trump’s second impeachment. He was one of many local politicians walking the route or riding in classic cars, and all the rest of them got polite applause, but people went wild for Raskin, shouting out “Thank you!” and similar things. He’s a local hero.

One notable event in the parade was that toward the end, a horse who had been in the parade, got loose and ran through the parade, against the flow of the procession. One person was knocked down, but thankfully, no one was seriously hurt.

When it was over I considered the fact that we don’t see as many people we know as we used to at this event. The crowd skews toward families with kids of elementary school age or younger and we don’t know many people like that anymore. In fact, the only people I saw whom I knew were my city council member and her family, who were in the parade. Her son went to preschool with North. The lack of familiar faces among the spectators made me feel a little sad and unconnected, even though a few people I know were there and posted pictures on Facebook. I just didn’t see them at the time.

My melancholy might have stemmed from the fact that I was already missing Beth and North. It just felt odd to be apart on this holiday we’ve spent together so many times, even though we were split up last Fourth of July, too. I guess being in a new place with extended family made it easier last time. But it’s the kind of thing that will happen more and more often, I expect, as the kids move out into the world.

Noah and I had a picnic dinner (on the porch because the evening was rainy). I scaled it back a little, skipping the potato salad and baked beans, because Noah doesn’t like them and they’re not great for me in a meal with plenty of other carbs. We had vegetarian hot dogs, devilled eggs, corn on the cob, watermelon, and ice cream with blueberries and another batch of sour cherry sauce. He helped by shucking the corn and slicing the watermelon while I was out running errands.

Beth Comes Home and North Does Not 

Two days later, Beth came home. North did not because there were fewer campers due to the Fourth of July holiday and not enough to fill a bus. (The campers and counselors who were there went on a field trip to see fireworks in a nearby town—so North was the only one in our family who saw any this year.)

I made a blueberry crumble to welcome Beth home. Noah and I made soba noodles with a peanut sauce, cucumbers, green peppers, and radishes and we all ate the noodles and crumble and watched The Death of Stalin, which Noah’s been wanting to watch for a long time. We weren’t all together, but it was still very good to have Beth home.

Willow and Walter Go to the Vet

On Monday, Willow and Walter got the last vaccine they’ll need for a while, for rabies. Beth reports they were not at all freaked out by the car ride or the dogs in the vet’s waiting room. I wasn’t surprised. They were pretty chill at their three-month visit a few weeks ago. They continue to grow. Walter’s just over five and a quarter pounds and Willow is just over four pounds.

They also continue to be very energetic and mischievous. They spend a high percentage of their waking hours wrestling, chasing each other, or finding things to knock off other things. Willow likes to get up on high things and pounce on her brother from above. Every day I find them in funny places—in the dishwasher, the recycling bin, batting each other through the holes in a laundry basket, drinking from the toilet. Walter is particularly fond of sitting on the printer. Sometimes they sit on the coffee table in front of the television and watch along with us, Walter occasionally batting at the screen if there’s something enticing like race cars. They love ice cubes and come running whenever they hear the dispenser on the freezer door. Then we must give them one and let them bat it across the kitchen floor.

So that covers our comings and goings from the past few weeks. I hope yours have been festive, relaxing, or whatever you want out of these mid-summer days.