It was indescribably hot in Massachusetts. (That is not my boat, by the way.)

We spent an undocumented week up at K’s brother’s house melting in the heat. We did go to Crane Beach one day.

Crane beach, Ipswich, MA

Crane beach, Ipswich, MA

It’s an amazing beach, actually. The water is very cold. It has no waves. At first it seems rather boring, except then the tide starts going out and you realize it’s one big sandbar. It was fun.

(K’s mom, who has become somewhat confused — another story — mumbled that it wasn’t quite what she had expected. It’s a little funny, actually, once you get over it being really sad. We had to keep an eye on her without her realizing it — I could easily imagine her wandering off down the beach and getting lost. And she is frequently dissatisfied with things. She’s lost that filter. The beach had no waves, which I think was what displeased her. Her coconut ice cream, I heard her telling K’s brother N hours after she had consumed it, was not creamy enough. She was a bit upset at my doing K’s laundry 30 years ago. (Never mind that I’m a bit annoyed with her for not insisting that he learn how to do it while he still lived at home.) It’s definitely past time when she needs a smaller place, and not to be driving.)


The we went down to my mom’s house, where we swam, boated, drank and played cards,


read old books,


and tried to figure out where N is, and where she will be.


This made the dogs happy.

By the way, it sounds like there’s a sailboat race going on outside. What gives? It must be protest season.



My plan went just fine. Thanks for asking. I did two loads of clothes and emptied a suitcase. The cat has been sleeping on the other one all day so peacefully that I can’t bear to disturb him.


This Paul Bunyan thing is a little odd.


Oddest of all is how he keeps changing sizes. We noticed it, and N and M had read some book in which it is remarked. Or maybe it was a Gilmore Girls episode.


That sounds about right.


Also, there are pelicans.

Plan for the day


  • Look for cable thing to download pictures.
  • Unpack suitcases. Perhaps that’s where it is?
  • Clean N’s room and use her couch to unpack suitcases on.
  • Go to M’s horseback riding barbecue thing.
  • Make something — blueberry muffins? – to bring with
  • Worry about several things. Trip to Russia? M and colleges?
  • It will be good to have space in N’s room to organize those things. Sometimes worrying requires a physical space.

I see the problem with this list now. It’s all backwards. I really need to clean N’s room before I do any of it, but I also need to find my shorts before I do that, and they are in the suitcase.


Also, I want to move the couch, but to do that I need to move the piano.

It’s a mess.

But — K and I went to see Taking Woodstock last night, and it was really good. It’s not really about Woodstock at all, which is good because I really hate hippies. It’s more about Woodstock peripheral to the story of a kid who isn’t a hippy. That’s why I liked it — I was sort of that kid. (Well, except I am not the gay son of a Jewish motel-owning couple in the Pocanos.) Really, it’s worth seeing.

And — for my bookgroup I am finally reading Strange as this Weather has Been, by Ann Pancake. It’s about a family. It’s about mountaintop removal mining. It’s really really good.

And I’ve finished a pair of socks. It’s been hot, but now it’s cooler, and it feels like fall is approaching. Knitting resumes.

Okay. I’m off to tackle my list. Sideways.


I’m back —

There are pictures, but I have not downloaded them yet.

It was a vacation, all right, although sort of an exhausting one.

Let’s see — we started out in western Minnesota, drove to eastern Minnesota and from there across Wisconsin, though Illinois and Indiana into Ohio, up and down, and then across Pennsylvania to western New York, across New York to Massachusetts which we crossed from northwest to southeast. From there back up to (outside) Boston where we spent a week with K’s family, and sent N to Russia and then finally back to southeastern MA for a few days with my mom.

So it was pretty exhausting, actually.

But we’re back. I’ll try to post some pictures soon.

It was good.

I like Minnesota. The wildflowers are beautiful and the lakes are great.

Could I live so far from the ocean?

Maybe . . .

Ohio is much nicer than I ever expected.

And it was a summer when younger people stepped out of the shadows. M asked questions of admissions people, became a hearts fanatic, a baking enthusiast, and jumped off the high dock for the first time. My nephew L swam to the sailboat and back and spent an afternoon jumping off the dock, both of which he has never ever done before.

We all fell in love with my uncle’s Buick, which we drove east to leave for N to take to Maine, although she is in Russia right now.

Which she appears to like a lot, although, and I quote, “I can barely buy food with my russian.”

So there you have it . . .

Also, M has her schedule, and she has art with the art teacher! (Not the repurposed social studies teacher, or the stoner graffiti guy!) Hooray! She may get into college after all!

Got to run . . .

At the lake


Here is a gratuitous shot of the Library of Congress. It really is the most beautiful building anywhere. I sort of wish I worked there. The funny thing is that the staff offices just look like library offices everywhere — full of big rooms with grand windows which are full of cublicles full of books and book trucks and posters from ALA. (At the American Library Association conference there is an enormous exhibit hall where vendors hand out all kinds of things, including posters.)

Anyway. I reduced my list by many things yesterday, including waiting for the comcast guy plus getting M to the dentist, and I am feeling a little less stressed. N’s friend E’s family left for Italy this morning. I went over to pick up some adaptors last night and they all seemed so cheerful and relaxed. It made me feel better just to see them.

Plus, we’re getting the road trip — when M and I tour the midwest in search of small liberal arts colleges — organized. It’s going to be a killer amount of driving, but it should be pretty fun. (Jeanne, we’re coming to Kenyon — most likely on Monday the 17th. Will you be around? You will most likely be driving around, too!) I’m sort of excited about it.

Plus getting all sorts of advice about dealing with Middle Brother. Mostly getting sympathy about having to deal with him — probably more valuable than advice. It does seem that many families have the annoying sibling. Which is comforting but also horrifying. I would not like to be the parent of the sibling who drives people crazy. Do you think it’s just that that sibling is slightly different than the others and thus viewed as annoying? Have we all colluded to make MB the one? My family has certain odd qualities — my five older siblings are actually my step-siblings. Their mother died when my next brother was 5 and my oldest sister was 12 (or something like that) and they were kind of raised as feral children for a while. Imagine a home with five children, a dying mother, a somewhat absent father and an interfering mother-in-law. So it’s no wonder MB is a mess. He was in exactly the position to be overlooked in that situation — not the baby and not old enough to have any memory of a reasonable family. And then my foolish mother marries their father and takes the whole mess on at the age of 28, less than a year after my father had died. And with my oldest sister wrecking cars and escaping out her bedroom window, and then a new baby fairly quickly, and especially given MB’s already annoying personality, it’s no wonder he was probably overlooked again. Really, it’s a wonder that any of us are still talking, much less going off to spend a week together in four small cabins . . .

And also, while I’m giving you the entire story, my memories of the lake cottage — which really is one of my favorite places on earth — are especially sweet because by the time I was 10 or so, the only people who came to the lake cottage were my mother, my two little brothers, my brother directly older, and me, and by the time I was 12 it was just my mother, my little brothers and me. And it was kind of nice, actually.

So, to be honest, I’m a little annoyed that I’m going to my favorite place and I’m going to have to be annoyed by my annoying siblings. It’s always hard to retain your grown up self when you’re back with your family, and no place more so than the place you were when you were little and have not been back to since. Not with them, anyway.


But the truth of the matter is that they were not at the lake as often as I was — they have memories of living nearby, but in town.

Maybe that will help.

Anyway, here is my plan: a tent, lots of books, boats, a sketchbook. Walks, wild raspberries, wild gooseberries, boats. A car, for when it’s truly desperate.

. . .

Me again

I’m a bit out of sorts, but a few conversations this morning have convinced me that everyone is out of sorts. I don’t know why that should make me feel better, but it does.

I’ve started reading The Woman in White and I’m enjoying it so much I would like to go back home right now, crawl into bed and continue reading. I’ll bring it with me and take it out in my canoe.

I am a little worried about this vacation. If you in any way regard me as a sane person, it no doubt has something to do with the fact that I live about 3,000 miles away from my family. I do love them, and I even like most of them, but dealing with them en masse in cramped quarters is going to be a bit much. I am going to have to figure out a strategy for coping: stay away from Middle Brother will be part of it. Bringing lots to read will be another. Having a car will be another. Okay, feeling better.

The meeting on Saturday with the Large Urban Public School (LUPS) people — ay. Part of it is that my experience with LUPS has been so frustrating and terrible that I don’t have much patience. I don’t assume they’ll be able to do anything right. I do assume that if there’s anything stupid and destructive that they can do, they’ll jump on it as quickly as they become aware of the possibility. I realize that this sour attitude gets me nowhere, but I am just counting the minutes until I no longer have anything to do with them. So probably I should just resign from the board of this committee and hand it over to some more enthusiastic person who actually thinks there is a possibility of a good outcome. Actually, I think our committee does have good outcomes, because what we do is, free of officialdom, hand out grants of money to people who request it. But now we have a board member who wants to get us all entangled in the district and their doings, which I just don’t see as a good idea. When a math teacher wants a document camera, I don’t think we want to spend months arguing with the district about which kind to buy and how many to get. I think we just want to buy him the camera. It’s also partly based on personality — I find this person annoying. She blathers on and on and on, dropping name after name after name. She’s sort of lacking in the social skills department. Some of her ideas are good. But it’s also that she’s new, and she tends to discount the experience of anyone who’s been around for a while. She just assumes that we don’t know what the hell we’re doing, when what we’re doing is actually based on some experience with the way things work at LUPS. It’s great that she knows about the district, but it would help if she could see what other people are talking about too, which she can’t. Plus, she has a sort of reedy, grating voice. Plus, she has not experienced the destructive incompetence that runs rampant at the school. Plus, it is very hard for one parent to know everything, which I don’t think she sees yet. Kids are very different (and teachers are different), and require different things from the school, and there’s no particular thing that’s everyone’s fix.

Oh, and also there were a whole host of new parents going on and on about their children. I am just so over it — I don’t want to hear about where the friends of the daughter of some woman I’ve never met are going to school. I mean, I might, if there was something particularly interesting about her, or her daughter, or her friends. I think it’s me — I’m done. My kids are pretty much grown up. It’s like when I finally lost interest in hearing about the sleep problems of babies — I know what it’s like to have a baby who won’t sleep. I know how I dealt with it, and I’m just not interested any more in hearing or talking about it. I guess I’m more interested now in hearing about how kids like their colleges, or what they’ve done with their degrees, or really, what people are doing now that their kids have left home. That’s what really interests me.

And I would hand over my position, except that I think for M’s last year it’s important for me to have one last year of connection to the school — my position on this group keeps me informed about the nefarious doings of the school, and the college couselors, which may be helpful to me and to M. If I hear, for instance, that the new college counselor is a moron, I’ll be ready to take action when transcripts don’t get mailed out. (Actually, I heard that she’s good –which is also important, I’m relieved.) So that’s why I’m selfishly hanging on. Plus, I’m the secretary, which is kind of an awful job, so I don’t think I’m actually depriving anyone of a great opportunity.

So there you have it: my vacation is not so much a vacation as a descent into the snakepit of familial relations; I’m pretty ready to be released from any relationship with LUPS; the immediate future is looking kind of miserable, which is very sad because summer is my season, but fall should be better.

That’s all for now —

New post


Our internet has been sporadic, and this has made posting difficult.

Also, I think I’m a little tired. I got back on Tuesday night and have been running around ever since, and now I think I’m just tired. And yesterday I had a day long meeting for this committee I’m on at LUPS. Today I slept late and since then I’ve watered (but not weeded, and it’s getting desperate) and vacuumed the upstairs (but not the downstairs) and done a few loads of clothes. I guess that’s actually not nothing, is it. I could easily go right back to bed right now.

And I’m freaking out a little bit that very soon we’re leaving for points east, and then N is going to Russia, and I feel like there are giant gaping holes in my understanding of the whole affair. For instance, do we have a mechanism whereby she’ll be able to get money should she need any? I think that would be good to know.

Otherwise, it feels like summer is winding down. The apples are nearly ready and the flowers are kind of finishing up.

Honestly, it will be good to on vacation. I’m worried that it’s going to be a little hectic.

This is probably just my usual pre-vacation flipping out.

In other news, I finished the Moonstone and I’d recommend it.

And that’s about it.