July 22: I didn’t do a single thing today. No, that’s not right. I didn’t do a single fun thing today. No, that’s not right either. Not doing a single fun thing today was the fun.
July 23: Today’s mail brought a delightful surprise: a postcard from my blog-friend Manja, who describes herself as “a Slovenian in Italy for love.” She’s also a poem-writing Luka Dončić superfan (the Dallas Mavericks are now my favorite NBA team) and a photo wizard. We became friends through our blogs. How amazing is that?
And I know, if I ever get to Italy/Slovenia, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom or Maine, that I have a few friends in those wonderful places who will let me treat them to coffee. And maybe give me a hug.
July 24: As I meandered through the Luce Foundation Center of the Smithsonian American Art Museum a few weeks ago, I was entranced by a painting of a young girl; it seemed familiar to me, but I just couldn’t place the work or the artist’s name. I’ve now solved the mystery.
Two years ago, Kevin and I spent a few weeks in the small town of Noank, Connecticut, on the Mystic River. Savoring shellfish dinners, sunrise marinas (me) and bike rides (Kevin), we stayed in the airy 90-year old studio of mid-century American artist Robert Brackman. Kevin and I skimmed a book of his life and work. I couldn’t take the book home, so instead I took a few pictures of its pages.
Today, as I scrolled through my photos, I found a photo I’d taken of Brackman at work in his (our) studio — and a photo of one Brackman painting: Somewhere in America (1934), the very painting I had lingered over at the museum.
Look at the image in the link above to appreciate the painting and its interesting story. Maybe Brackman created the painting in Noank — and left behind a trace for me.
July 25: Really. All I wanted to do was find a certain postcard, which I thought I’d wedged into the drawer of a 19th century escritoire I’d bought at auction years ago. I upended the entire drawer and didn’t find the postcard.
But I did find a receipt from 1997, before Jeremiah was born. Chinese currency. Nate’s and Jeremiah’s school photos and youth baseball cards. My Mom’s business card as Mayor of the Borough of Shrewsbury, NJ, and her very old Social Security card. Notes I wrote to myself in 1977, 1978 and 1983. An address book from the 1980s (with the names of friends still dear to me.) Two savings bonds. Stationery from the Mara Safari Club in Kenya. My first work photo ID displaying 1990 hair and 1990 weight.
And a scrap of lined paper, crinkled and jammed into the back, reading:
My Mom’s as beautiful as the rising sun,
My Mom’s as clever as [eraser marks] eleven scientists put into one!
My Mom’s the greatest cook the world has ever none [sic],
My Mom’s unlike other mothers, for she never ties up the phone.
My Mom helps me with math problems and makes them correct.
MY MOM’S the greatest [paper torn] EVERY RESPECT!!!!
July 26: A nasty little storm blew through town yesterday at 3:59 pm, exactly when the plane from Des Moines should have landed. Safety first: the flight was cancelled, and with it the first night of our epic family vacation.
But my sister-in-law Karolina and her children arrived from Iowa today (storm clouds, begone). My sister-in-law Susan, husband and two grandchildren arrive tomorrow. We’re all heading to the beach: eventually totaling seven adults, four children, and so many things to do. Maybe I’ll write my Wednesday and Thursday entries now. Day 1: Fun! Day 2: Even more fun!
July 27: Instead of doing rainy day jigsaw puzzles, my sister-in-law Karolina and I slathered sunscreen. Instead of natural shyness, my young niece and nephew gleefully joined my adventures. Instead of cooking a big family dinner, Karolina, Nate, the kids and I slurped clams (and wine) on a pier. Instead of having mountains of dishes to wash we had mountains of hugs as my sister-in-law Susan and more family arrived at last from Iowa. Travel woes forgotten, forecasts ignored, our epic family vacation had officially begun.
July 28: The Atlantic Ocean at Assateague Island welcomes everyone, but it was especially nice to three visitors who had never swum in an ocean before. The ocean provided not one but two sandbars, so that adventurous Iowans could stand knee-deep fifty yards from shore. The ocean provided surf for boogie boards and basic wave management (“jump over the wave, dive through the wave, or drop like a rock”).
And the ocean beckoned Nate and his surfboard. Nate would eventually launch my great-nephew into a fabulous boogie board ride. But the image I’ll carry is the pair of them, bellies on their boards, paddling out to the distant surf, side by side.
Bonus: As I typed that, I overheard my nephew’s grandfather tell Nate, “He worships the ground you walk on.” Nate smiled, accepted the compliment and replied, “Maybe we’ll be able to get him on the big board tomorrow.”
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