May 30th, 2005


Update from the home front

Things are good here. The SUN is out, which I gather is a major big deal around here since the weather's been very "English" the past few weeks, months even. My parents and I are going to Portsmouth today I think, which will be nice. Last night Mom asked me what I'd like to do today and I said "see the ocean, I don't care where," so we're going there. I'd like to go to Plum Island or someplace with a beach, too, except obviously my dad can't walk around on sand since he can just about toddle around on solid ground. In Portsmouth there's a nice park we can go to and Dad can sit on a bench while Mom and I see if any shops are open.

I had such a nice weekend. Seeing my ENTIRE family was great, as that hasn't happen in years, since at Christmas some family is always missing. Not this time, there were 18 of us! It was 11 adults and 7 kids. I had fun with the kids, especially Owen. Toddlers are so fun and they have the best toys; they will play with anything too. Owen has a thing for tools and I spent a lot of time supervising him as he used the (full-sized) hoe and hoed all around the yard, mainly the pine needles under the trees. "I'm hoeing! I'm hoeing!" Soooo sweet. The other kids were good too. They're all good kids. I got to talk to most of my siblings and inlaws a lot too, do some catch up. The only one I didn't talk to much is my brother Tom and brother-in-law Bruce; everybody else I ended up chatting with at one point or another. Another nice thing is that there were no fights, squabbles, awkward moments, insults, emotional scenes, which is about as rare as all of us getting together. My dad was in a good mood too and only snapped a couple of times, when the kids' horseplay started to irritate him.

Mom has given me some stuff to bring home with me. Her only abnormal psych. book from college, circa 1955, for example. I used to love that book as a kid -- full of all kinds of weirdness and lots of condescending judgements on people. Old textbooks are fun. She's also giving me three skirts I found in the closet, which are way too small for her now but fit me fine, as they're size 18. I'm also borrowing a couple of Birds of North America videotapes, which I thought Caleb would enjoy and I can learn from.

Oh, well. I should take a shower now and get dressed, so I'll be ready to go, whenever Mom and Dad wake up again. They were both up around 7:30 and had breakfast, then they went back to bed for a nap. They've been snoring for an hour now. He he.
sideview, obamame_sideview

Newburyport and Plum Island

I'm back from the little day trip to the coast.

We ended up going to Newburyport rather than Portsmouth, as we thought it would be easier for my dad to reach the boardwalk park there rather than the one in Portsmouth.

Mom drove the scenic route up, so we went through plaes like North Andover, Boxford, Georgetown, etc. which are full of gorgeous old houses, including Federal style, saltbox farmhouses, etc., a lot of them dating to the 1700s and early 19th century. I even saw a few houses from the mid-1600s.

Newburyport itself is absolutely gorgeous too. We went to the nice waterfront boardwalk first, so Dad could find a place to sit. It was a little windy but OK. Mom and I went off to do a little shopping and the street festival going on. There are so many nice shops in that town, especially jewelry, antiques and homegoods.

Unfortunately we only looked at a few stalls and shops before it started raining. Dad had the car keys but we didn't want him getting super wet so we went to the car to check that he got inside. He was there, but since it was raining we decided to go over to Plum Island. So we drove by yet more pretty houses and wound up stopping at this bird sanctuary run by the Mass. Audobon Society. They had a great giftshop; they had all these stuffed birds (the stuffed animal kind, not taxidermy) that play bird calls recorded at the Cornell ornithology center. They had a ton of different birds and I decided I had to have one. I got a crow. My mom thought it was weird but I love crows.

The rain stopped again so we went back to Newburyport and finally found a place to park. This time we left Dad in the car (he just tilts back the seat and listens to the radio or sleeps) and went shopping for around an hour. Again, lots of nice shops. I like the British shop there, although I didn't buy anything this time. Mom and I stopped at the amazing retro soda shop / magazine shop on Main St. and had ice cream and coffee. I love that place. It started to drizzle but we shopped a bit more and Mom got a big pot of poppies from a flower stand that was just closing. Then it was really raining so we all went home.
sideview, obamame_sideview

A few more notes from today

A few more bits and pieces I want to get down:

1) Caleb made a reservation at a fancy hotel in Cologne for us during our trip this summer. We'll be at a hotel in Bonn for a couple of nights for Feencon, then afterward we'll go to Cologne. He had offered to spring for something actually fancy, so I suggested a place right next to the catherdal that has always struck me as extremely elegant.

2) Last night I spent a couple of hours of my family's home movies, all from the early 60s. I concluded that above all, I aspire to look as pretty as my mother. Also, I think my sisters had happier childhoods than I did because they had each other as playmates, whereas I spent most of my time with adults or by myself.

3) Driving, especialy when there are lots of curves and it's hot in the car, makes me carsick. Ugh.

4) I have felt pretty good / optimistic / ambitious over the past couple of days. I hope this is a sign my medicine is starting to take hold more.

5) Just finished reading A Handmaid's Tale, which a lot of people recommended to me since Breeding Discontent has a similar type plot. I had that book on my reading pile for a year but only now just read it. I didn't think I would like the style and that it would be too pedantic but actually I really liked it. I think it's quite relevant given the rising theocracy in this country!
sideview, obamame_sideview

Bird sighting

So I was out in the backyard a couple of hours ago and heard a noise that didn't sound like familiar. It didn't sound like a songbird, but more like the call of a pheasant, owl or something like that. Well, moving further into the woods, where I was taking pictures of forest flowers, I saw a movement and spotted a large bird, which turned out to be a pileated woodpecker, one of the largest woodpecker species -- second only to that giant one they recently discovered isn't extinct. It's the size of an adolescent crow, with a red head and white markings on the shoulders and neck. When it flew off, its big wings made a "whoosh, whoosh" noise, it was that big. Considering I was just at the Audobon Society today, I was pretty excited to see it.
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