Eastern Sierra

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So, from Texas I flew to Arizona, to visit my grandmother, who was ill. (More about that later.)

I was home in time for a scheduled trip to the eastern Sierra, though.

Wow, was that beautiful. Got to find a way to go back.

Picture from a hike to Glass Creek meadow — I’m out of shape by now, plus it was at something like 9,000 feet. Yikes.

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Terrible phone photo does not really show the wildflowers. Or convey how awesome it was.

Then Texas

Ok, so after Maine (and Massachusetts), I flew to Texas for my annual librarian conference.

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It wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d expected. In the first place, there were interesting ducks in the silly river that runs through town. I think they’re Mexican mallards.

Secondly, I ate some reasonable food, and thirdly, the conference itself was much better than expected. I had a program on the schedule which went really well (no thanks to me, believe me. I just picked the speakers.)

Lastly, one of the vendors put on a party out of town at a ranch. It was so much fun — I’d really wanted to get out of town and see what the place looks like, and this was my chance.

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Also, I got to meet a longhorn.

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Can you tell that I was scared of her? I was — look at those enormous and very pointy horns!

Also, everyone was very nice. It’s interesting, because I come from a place with a large Hispanic population, and Texas is also a place with a large Hispanic population, but it felt a little different. Contrary to what you might expect, people were not at all shy about speaking Spanish and they didn’t seem surprised if you did or did not speak Spanish to them — Spanish seemed more mainstream, actually, which was unexpected. I mean, my opinions about Texas come almost exclusively from reading about the nutty things their governor says, so it’s not surprising that the 25 inhabitants of the state that I met were not like him. Still, surprising. And pleasant.

Maine sidetrip

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So, after the family reunion, N peeled off to visit friends, and K, M and I drove to Maine to poke around a bit.

I made us climb Mt Megunticook. It’s not a big mountain, but so close to the coast that the view is fantastic.

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Then we checked out a farm I really want to buy.

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It makes no sense at all.

I’m thinking about it.

(It has a pond.)

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(Could we just buy a farm in Maine? Why not?)

Anyway — from there, we went to my mom’s (we picked up N on the way). I did a quick load of laundry and then K and I drove to the airport. I flew to Texas, for a conference, and he flew home. Kindly, he lugged the enormous duffel bag full of sleeping bags, tent and boots home.

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The memorial trip

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So, K’s parents were atheists. That’s cool — I’m an atheist, too. It does mean, though, that you’re on your own in the memorial ceremony department. That’s why it has taken us so much time to have a ceremony of any kind. I really think it’s worth it, though. It’s always good to make a time to think about people you love who have died. I’m a big fan.

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At the memorial luncheon in Pittsburgh, K’s brother B made an interesting observation — that the parents were believers in science, and scientific progress and social progress — probably in a way specific to people of their generation. Things have proved to not be so straight-forward, but I think it’s true that in all aspects of their lives, including the straight lines of the furniture and china they chose, they valued reason above all.

I’m not sure it’s reasonable to have a memorial luncheon, but it was a lovely event. Old friends who had been to grad school with T spoke, and a woman who had known E well, too, and it was especially nice for us, I think, to think about them as whole people, and not just parents, or parents-in-law.

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After Pittsburgh, we went to the Finger Lakes (in New York State), and further celebrated the parents by visiting the city where K’s great grandfather worked for an early bicycle company, and by going wine-tasting. (K’s parents were very interested in wine.)

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It was incredibly beautiful up in the Finger Lakes. We visited E’s college, and from there traveled north to E’s brother’s camp, four miles from the town they grew up in, on the reservoir she’d spent all her childhood summers on. We were there a few days, and on one day there was a huge family reunion with all of us (E’s sons and families), and with children of all of E’s siblings. It was kind of great to hear stories and see pictures of E as a girl, and of the rest of her family, too. There was an aunt who married an artist and routinely walked around in bare feet, for one. It was fun to watch the younger cousins hanging out, too.

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After that, we spent a day at K’s brother’s farm, which was beautiful, and then had lunch with an aunt who had been unable to travel to the reunion and then we were done.

It was an enormous undertaking, but I think it was actually worth it. One of the nicest moments was at B’s farm. We hauled the boxes of pictures and other keepsakes up from the basement — there were wonderful pictures of E as a kid, plus cards and poems and reports that boys had done. It was fun to go through all that stuff.

I don’t know — it was very nice.

E had been very ill in the last years of her life, so really the kids had taken on the role of organizing the times we’ve gotten together — so it was not new that we were the ones organizing this event, but it was definitely the first time the three families have been together since E’s death, and it was nice that it felt like a thing we enjoyed doing. The boys were patient and kind with each other, and the cousins in various configurations really enjoy being together. I don’t know why this matters so much to me, but it does. And honestly, one of the nicest things about this summer is having my two kids home and enjoying spending time with each other.

And that is that.

Well, then

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So, I’ve been gone for a long time, right?

I barely know where to begin.

I guess I’ll begin with the end. We’re all back home again for a very brief moment before the kids fly off again.

I just got home last Friday, and then disappeared again for the weekend. Needless to say the house is a disaster. I am looking forward to this coming weekend to get organized again, like, to sweep up the sand, do the laundry, and put away the suitcases.

You can see that Lucy did not think much of our vacation plans . . .

Okay, more later.

But, I’m back!