Summer’s Coming Around Again

Here now summer’s coming around again
Every year it seems to come in this way

From “Summer’s Coming Around Again,” by Carly Simon, James E. Ryan, and Paul Glanz

North finished a week of staff training at camp. They got certified for CPR and passed the swim test. Sunday, they welcomed the first group of campers and escorted them to camp on the bus. They were home for a day and two nights before that. They didn’t expect to come home so soon, but the camp asked volunteers to be bus counselors and a ride home two days prior was part of the deal, so they took it.

Here’s what we were up to while they were gone and while they were home and then after they left:

Takoma Pride

Takoma Pride was a week ago Sunday. Beth and I dropped by in between a visit to the farmers’ market, where we got strawberries, cherries, and a dill plant, and the Fulfillery, where we got some small cloth bags. We looked at the booths, watched the family parade go by, chatted with a friend, and got our picture taken by the flowery Love sign. Takoma Pride is small but spirited, and I always enjoy it.

Adventures with Bees

The next day a beekeeper came to the house. Why would we need this service? A couple weeks earlier Noah was moving one of our outdoor chairs so he could mow the lawn and he got stung on the face by a bee that emerged from the stuffing of the chair. It turned out there was a whole nest of bumblebees living in there. We were all puzzled because we were under the impression bumblebees don’t sting. As there was also a tiny wasp nest in the eaves, we considered the possibility that Noah was coincidentally stung by a wasp as he moved the chair, but soon after North was walking by the same chair which was inconveniently located right outside the back door and they got stung, too. And they saw the stinging insect and insisted it was a bumblebee.

We consulted with our pest control company agent who told us bumblebees don’t sting and recommended getting a beekeeper to come remove the nest. We did just that because we didn’t want to kill them (though we did have the pest company take care of the wasp nest). It took a while to get the beekeeper to come, but he does it for free, so we can’t really complain. He told us bumblebees do sting on rare occasions when their nest is threatened. Then he got into his suit, enclosed the chair cushion in a garbage bag and took it away to release the bees into the wild. A few must have been outside the nest when he did it because we saw them flying around the area looking for their home for several days afterward.

The irony of this whole adventure was that when Noah set out to mow the lawn it hadn’t been mowed in almost two months because in April and May it’s covered in buttercups and asters and I like to leave it as a little meadow until they’re done, partly because it’s pretty and partly for the pollinators. And then they go and sting my kids. No good deed goes unpunished.

Mini-Kitchen Renovation

We’ve been doing a partial kitchen renovation, little by little. We had it painted in January 2023 and then we got a new induction stove this April. Last week we had a new back door and kitchen flooring installed. The old door didn’t fit quite right in the doorframe, and it used to blow open on windy days if it wasn’t bolted shut and the pest control company cited it as a possible entry point for mice. We had mice for years and we’ve only been mouse-free for several months, so we did not want to extend an invitation for them to return.

I’m not sure how old the floor was, but it was there when we moved into the house in 2002 and it was badly chipped. The old pattern was white with little black diamonds. I liked it a lot and wanted something similar, at least something black and white and geometrical. This was surprisingly hard to find. Almost all the options for the kind of interlocking tiles the contractor suggested had a wood, granite, or marble pattern and I didn’t want flooring pretending to be something it wasn’t. I had to look at eight hundred patterns—really, no exaggeration—to find the big black and white checkers we ended up choosing, but I really like them. I didn’t even remember this until Beth mentioned it, but it looks just like the floor in our D.C. apartment where we lived from 1991 to 2002. Maybe that’s why it speaks to me. North is not pleased that the floor looks “different.” I get it. Change can be hard, maybe especially in your childhood home.

Weekend Visit

Speaking of North, they came home Friday evening and stayed until Sunday morning. When they got home, they hugged the kittens first, then Beth and me, and then Noah, who said on seeing them, “I have a job.”

“I do, too,” they replied.

North’s first night home we had homemade pizza with vegetarian pepperoni and olives for dinner and watched All of Us Strangers, which was moving and well-acted. Saturday morning, they had brunch with El in the city.

That afternoon we drove all the way to Rockville for ice cream. We did this because the weekend section of the Post had a feature about the twelve best places to get ice cream in the DC Metro area and we all thought it was incumbent on us to save the article and sample ice cream from at least four places, with each of us getting to choose one. North thought we should start right away and since they won’t be home every weekend this summer, we let them choose first. They noted there was a three-way tie for first place and went with Sarah’s Handmade Ice Cream and Treats because it had some tea-based and floral flavors and they found that intriguing. It was also ranked the best ice cream in Maryland, the other two winners being in the District and Virginia.

On the drive there, I was wondering if it was silly to drive so far for ice cream, when ice cream is widely available closer to home, and I’m not an ice cream connoisseur. It’s not like I’ve ever gone out for ice cream and thought “Yuck!” but I have to say it was a fun outing. When we got there, we recognized the shopping plaza as somewhere we’d once stopped to use the restrooms on a road trip, though none of us was sure exactly when. The flavors were indeed interesting. North got lavender-honey and Thai iced tea. I got apricot-pistachio. If you’re local, we give it four thumbs up.

North got a migraine after we got home and used the new nasal spray for the first time. It didn’t eliminate the headache, but it quickly took the pain down to a manageable level. However, they said it stung and then it dripped down their throat and tasted bad. “But it’s better than a migraine, right?” I said.

“I guess so,” they said, but it wasn’t a ringing endorsement. They went to lie down for a little while but then they got up and were able to carry on with the evening, so I count it as a win. When I wrote about this earlier, I didn’t realize that as with their most effective med, there’s a limit on how many times they can take it, five times a month. So that gives them meds for roughly three days a week, up from two, which still falls short of what they need, but it’s an improvement. They took the spray to camp with them when they went back.

That night Noah and I made enchiladas using cilantro I’d grown from seeds harvested from a previous year’s cilantro plants. This isn’t the first time I’ve managed this feat, but I was fishing for compliments on my gardening prowess when Noah said it practically qualified me to be a tradwife, which wasn’t exactly what I was going for. We did also make the sauce from scratch, but not from our own tomatoes or poblanos, so we’re not quite suburban homesteaders yet.

That night we watched a couple episodes of Grownish and the next morning the kids watched an episode of Dr. Who before North left for camp. Noah agreed to get up at 7:30 to do so, which was unusual for him any day of the week and it was a Sunday. He did note he needed to shift his sleep schedule when he started work on Tuesday, but on Saturday he was still asleep when I left the house at eleven to go swim, so I was kind of surprised he managed it.

North said goodbye to everyone (except Beth who’d gone kayaking and said her goodbyes the night before) and called a Lyft. They said before they left that they were nervous but excited to meet the kids. Their group this week is in a theater-based program, and they were happy about that. They will probably be back home next weekend.

Kitten Update

So, I promised a kitten update in the comments section of my last post. They turned three months old on Monday. No surprise, they continue to be very cute. When we first got them, they did everything together. If one of them went to the water bowl, the other would drink, too. They would use the litterbox at the same time. They slept together and played together whenever they weren’t sleeping. It’s been almost four weeks since we got them and they still do all these things, but they are spending a little time apart now. One evening Willow slept on Beth’s stomach as she lay on our bed, while Walter was camped out on me on the living room couch, and this went on for at least an hour. Willow has the habit of trying to suckle on Walter’s belly, which apparently kittens sometimes do with their siblings after they’ve been separated from their mother. He is very patient with this behavior, though sometimes he looks a bit puzzled by it.

I didn’t expect personality differences to emerge this early because Matthew and Xander were very similar as kittens and quite different as adult cats, but it does seem as if Walter is going to be the more laid-back, easy-going one and Willow is more daring and adventurous. She will climb a window screen in pursuit of a fly and is a little more intense in their wrestling matches and chasing games. She also likes to play “monster under the covers,” which is what we called it when our first cat, Emily, used to chase our feet under the covers. (Emily enjoyed this game her whole life.) Walter will sometimes join in if he sees her doing it.

We took the cats for their three-month checkup and vaccines on Monday, and they are healthy. As we suspected, Walter is growing a little faster than Willow. Willow has gained a pound since we got her and now weighs in at three pounds. Walter has gained a pound and a half and now tips the scale at four pounds. The vet says they’re both in a normal range for their age. The vet put their picture on the office Instagram. Check out Takoma Park Animal Clinic if you want to see it.

Working Man

Noah started his job on Tuesday. For now, he’ll be in the office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and either working from home or off on Mondays and Fridays. Based on the total number of hours he’s supposed to work between now and November, I suspect the work will ramp up over the course of the next several months and will be more than full-time by the end. Another hint that hours may get long: he was told that closer to the election, the company will provide lunch.

He seems to like the office. There’s another seasonal employee he says is about his age. He spent his first two days sorting through stock photos and trying to find out which ones were shot in the United States, because candidates want images made in America in their ads. (It’s always interesting to me to learn the things people do at different jobs that you’d never realize have to be done.)

So, another summer is coming around. It will be a summer unlike any other we’ve had thus far, with all four of us working. I was all alone in the house Tuesday and much of Wednesday because Beth had to go into the office and then to a Juneteenth event. This is pretty rare since Beth’s office is still hybrid and she usually works at home, and even when she does go to work, for the last year or so, one or both of the kids was usually home. It’s a change, but despite North’s reaction to the floor, not all change is bad.