And more

I am exhausted. I think that was my plan — to exhaust myself into a stupor so I wouldn’t miss the kids — and I seem to have been successful, about the stupor part anyway.

And, to further the illusion that this is a reading blog, I can tell you that I read Little Bee on the airplane home (thank god for the Manchester, New Hampshire airport — the Hudson News stand there has someone with my taste buying books. They also had a paperback edition of the guy who was looking for the lost city of Z, which I could have also read. It’s a good book (Little Bee, I mean). It’s not perfect, but it’s good — I enjoyed it.

Anyway, to resume, after dropping K off at the Columbus airport, N and I drove across Ohio to Pittsburgh, stopping en route to leave M her cell phone charger (but not to see her — she was busy). It’s not a bad drive at all. We left the car with Esther, K’s mother, and caught the bus to the airport. After leaving the hotel in Ohio at about 10, we arrived in Portland, Maine at about 10, having taken car, bus and two planes to get there. It was exhausting.

The next day, we tootled around Lewiston a bit. I saw N’s apartment, of course, which was nowhere near the mess I had been lead to believe. She cooked me breakfast, we had lunch at her favorite bakery, we loaded up on maps, and then we headed off east, along the coast. It was spectacular. We spent the night right on the coast in Searsport at the nicest campground we had ever seen. I saw the sun come up over the islands off of Searsport.

Then we turned north and started driving up through Maine. All along we were never quite sure of our route — one idea had been to go east through New Brunswick to Nova Scotia, and that would have been a pretty trip — but I really wanted to go north, and it turns out she did too. So we traveled up to Fort Kent, sampled the poutine, crossed the border there. The crossing guard was somewhat suspicious of us at first, driving in an old Buick with the car full of stuff including my suitcases (one nearly empty — used to convey M’s belongings to Ohio), plus a lot of N’s possessions, since she’ moving out of her apartment – today, actually -and no clear idea where we were going. Plus, our passports — we’ve been to Russia, and N has been to Istanbul. I don’t know if that matters. But while he was off checking our extensive criminal records, N and I hammered out a plan, and when he came back I checked it over for distances with him, which I think sort of softened him, and after he inspected the car and found nothing more sinister than some of my uncle Larry’s polishing towels under the seat, he let us go. He asked if we had any relatives in Canada and I told him that my great grandmother had been born there, but he said that was too distant to matter.

Also, we had stopped at the Maine Prisoner’s Store on the way up. They have some really nice things, including very fancy model ships, and we bought an ottoman there for N, which I think made him suspicious. Apparently, it was illegal to bring those things into Canada, but he let us go. “I bought some stuff there myself, since I had a buddy in prison down there. I didn’t know it was illegal until I came to work here.” So — now you know.

Anyway. We spent the next night in Campbellton, New Brunswick at a lovely provincial campground, and the next day we crossed the Gaspe Peninsula to the Saint Lawrence River. We ate breakfast in Sainte Luce, and a conversation with the gift shop owner nextdoor convinced us to take the ferry from Rimouski across to Forestville and drive up to Quebec City on the northern bank of the St Lawrence. We did, and camped at camping bon desirthat night. The next day we drove in to Quebec. I can’t even tell you how beautiful the road was. Quebec was fun — we hung around for most of the day, then stayed in a motel outside of town that night, crossing into Vermont the next day, hiking a tiny piece of the Appalachian Trail in the White Mountains in New Hampshire before camping at a sort of noisy and child-filled campground not too far from Lake Winnipesaukee, which was pretty, but too crowded. The next day, N dropped me off at the airport.

It was a great trip — too fast, but now we have ideas about where to go. I’d like to go back to the Gaspe Peninsula, and also back to the road across the river from it, which goes way up north.

And Quebec is amazing — they really do speak French there. It’s amazing — like a whole different world way up north of where you sort of think no one ever goes. It was lovely. I want to go back.

Okay — now to get the car to the garage, etc.

Maybe pictures later . . .

I have returned!

So — I’m back. I’ll recap.

  • We flew to Massachusetts for a family reunion. I was much too tired, having just got M packed. We got in at 5 pm for a family barbeque at 7 and then a big bash for my mother the next day. It was exhausting and my mother was in rare form — ordering us all around in sort of noncoherent ways. I think everyone else had been there for days being ordered around. Anyway, it was not particularly fun, and in the end the family ended up huddled on the porch talking to ourselves and avoiding the party. Well, except for my sister, who seems to be in some kind of competition for number one child. Yours and welcome to it, I say. It could have been really fun, but somehow it wasn’t. I think a lot of it had to do with my own exhaustion, and part of it with my mother’s loneliness since my stepfather died. If he had been alive it would have been a clambake, which already would have made it a success no matter how crabby my mother was being. And she is being crabby lately — something to look into.
  • We hung out in Massachusetts for 2 more days, which was more fun, although colored with other problems including, but not limited to, my brother falling off his bike and breaking his collarbone (on the day of the party). He was on a ride with my two younger brothers and my nephew — and it was on a motorcycle ride with my brothers 20 years ago that he crashed, was burned, and lost the use of his left arm — so for one of them at least it brought back sort of a post-traumatic stress reaction. Anyway — it was fun, but there was still too much going on for our visit to slide into that sense of limitless time that we usually feel there. Saturday N went back to Maine and we packed up (we had 6 suitcases — thank you Southwest) and flew down to Pittsburgh to stay with K’s mother.
  • Who is much better — functional, even, although shaken up by her diagnosis of beginning Alzheimer’s. But she’s fine — she knows what she’s doing. She knows what’s on for the day, she recognizes Gilgamesh in a newspaper cartoon, and she’s thinking seriously about moving into a senior community, which I think would be a great idea — although it would be sad for her to leave her nice house that’s close to K’s brother. We surreptitiously visited a place nearby that looked quite nice –close to where she had lived when the kid were growing up. She could probably be more independent there than she is at her house, where she is pretty much at the mercy of my sometimes short-tempered sister-in-law as far as getting out. She is also much less anxious than she has been in the past. I think she’s getting over Tom’s death and figuring out how to get along in the world on her own.
  • So much for the elderly report — N flew in and then we all four drove to Ohio to drop M off. I’ll have to go into that more later, but I think it’s going to be okay. Her roommate is not much like her, but still a good roommate. She got all moved in and N and I went shopping for the few remaining items she needed. we got her a phone that works. She picked out her classes and met someone we all agreed should be her friend. It was great having N along, just as it was great having my niece A (and M, actually) along when we dropped off N. N knew what to do, and what M would need, and was reassuring. Also, she could hang around with M when it would have been weird for us to, and also knew when to leave her alone. Also, I have a funny story about Jeanne and her husband to relay, but I think I’ll do that later. But Jeanne sent M the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen — a bouquet of flowers of all different hues of red. They were gorgeous, and it was such a nice thing to do. Sniff.
  • N, K and I spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday driving around rural Ohio. Our hotel was about an hour from M’s college, but in a way it was good. We saw Indian mounds. We were able to do some shopping near our hotel that we would not have been able to do up there (i.e. Target). And now we know the countryside a little bit better. It’s amazingly pretty, and there are lots of horses. N approved of M’s college. The kids are really friendly, and the halls are set up in a way that makes that easy. The town is very very small but has everything M needs — ice cream, a grocery store, a great book store — and the college is beautiful. We stayed for convocation. I have to say that the speeches were unbearably boring, but the pageantry was impressive. It’s a beautiful campus. And we met M’s advisor, and he seems really nice. I think it will be okay. Sunday night, after we dropped M off, we went back to Columbus and met N’s roommate, who lives in Cincinnati (about an hour or two away) for dinner, which was nice, and I forgot to mention that we met K’s cousin A — who went to art school in San Francisco and is now in a master’s program in Athens, Ohio — on Friday or Saturday afternoon. So with all these people around (including the Griggs’s) it actually does not feel so far away. A invited M down for Halloween, which she should definitely do, but perhaps not while she’s a freshman.
  • We dropped K at the Columbus airport and N and I drove back to Pittsburgh to begin our epic journey. We returned Esther’s car, repacked, and caught the bus to the airport. We flew to Maine, where Nora’s housemate picked us up and brought us to N’s apartment.
  • I think I have to do this in another post, but we left the next morning. We drove through Maine, New Brunswick, Quebec, Vermont and New Hampshire. It was all beautiful, but Quebec was especially beautiful. It was probably the most beautiful place I have ever been.
  • I’ll tell you the rest later. I’ve got to shower and get to work.


DSC02345, originally uploaded by SpruceSt.

We survived the party, and now it’s the aftermath, where the house is painfully clean and you can sit and enjoy it. Except we have to pack up and go.
I’m heading in to work for a few hours. I have a few last-minute things to take care of, but mostly I think it’s that I can’t face packing M up. It’s hit me — I’m going to have no kids at home next year.

Best not to think about it. N is picking us up at the airport. I can’t wait to see her. That will all be great. They’ll be home at Christmas — we’ll rent a cabin in the snow. All good.


I’ve been thinking about getting a dog . . .

Gone Fishing

We survived the party at our house (a colleague is moving away. Sniff.) and M’s quadrille test at the horse show (they won a blue ribbon and looked great and M enjoyed it) and now need to start packing up for college.

I can’t believe it.

Posting likely to be sporadic until September.


  • The house is really clean and I finally got all the pictures hung! A breakthough!
  • After telling me for weeks that she was never going to be in a show again, M came home from this one and said she’d do it again. She hates to perform, but she said that they really knew the test, and the show was kind of fun. It was, actually. It’s a big regional championship, although she was riding in the preliminary day before so it was less busy, but there were still lots of fancy horses and horse-related bustle and people walking around in funny pants and tall boots. It was slightly amazing. M’s barn always seems really nice to me — it’s clean and the horses are well-cared for — but I realized yesterday that they are really at the low end of the spectrum in the horse-world. There were stables there who had rented whole rows of stalls and had matching lacquered tack boxes in front of each one. Our horses include a rescued mustang, and Welsh pony and a quarterhorse and some kind of palomino and they were tethered to their trailer in the parking lot. But the girls looked great in their matching black and white outfits and they did really well. Also, M has, over the past 6 years but mostly over the summer, really found a group of friends there. The youngest is 12 and the oldest is probably 35, but they are all really close. It’s great. It’s probably indicative of something that she really did not make any really close friends in high school, but over the summer, at my office and at her barn, she’s made friends, and really good friends, of all different ages. I think that’s how it’s going to be for her. I think life will only be better out of high school
  • I am really going to miss my colleague A. I didn’t notice at first, and then it seemed so normal, but it’s been great to have a friend at work to talk to about nothing, but also about work-related stuff, and life-related. I’ve survived for years without a friend, but now that I’ve had one it’s going to be really hard . . . Also, it was so handy to have a reasonable person to talk to. I’ve been trying not to think about it, but it’s going to be really hard.
  • All right — I’ve got to get a move on here. There’s a mountain of laundry, and i we don’t start packing now, we’ll be doomed.
  • Back in the fall . . .