Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Yes, we had an earthquake today

Not that I really felt it. I was walking to Veeka's school to pick her up and had just crossed the street. It was about 1:55 p.m. A bunch of parents were leaning against a brick wall adjoining the school playground. Suddenly I saw all of them dash about 20 feet onto the blacktop of the playground, then turn around to look at the school. (They told me later that the wall started swaying above them). Then they began grabbing for their cell phones.
As for our 5.9 magnitude visitor, I didn't feel the earth shake; heard nothing. Maybe if I'd been inside a building, I'd have felt it more but I was on a sidewalk. I reached the ramp to Veeka's classroom and I saw a group of teachers and kids pouring out of the building, all of them looking perturbed for some reason. A few were crying. The door to Veeka's classroom had opened by this time (all of 2 minutes had passed since the shaking) and kids were gingerly walking out the door there. Again, some looked quite unhappy. As for Veeka - no - all she wanted was to get home and have chocolate chip cookies. By this time I was asking about and one of the parents told me there'd been an earthquake. Really? Couldn't believe I'd missed it.However, several picture frames were hanging from the walls of my home at weird angles and a few things on high shelves cascaded to the floor.
I called up Twitter and found the funniest posts, a few of which I've included here:
eorlins Eliza Orlins
To all those in CA making fun of our reaction to the quake, let's see you handle rationally 2 feet of snow, then we can talk. #earthquake

5 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply

bronk Benjy Bronk
F!, its only been like a half hour & I've already finished my 15 day supply of emergency food :( #earthquake
6 minutes ago

RennaW Renna
DARN IT!!!! I was this close to finishing my Etch-a-Sketch masterpiece. #earthquake

mikebarish Mike Barish
#NYC hospitals reporting dramatic spike in dart game-related injuries. #earthquake

KarlFrisch Karl Frisch
Confirmed: #dcquake was in fact an #earthquake. Was hoping it was the rapture so Congress could actually do its job.

sweetshine143 sunshine
oh summer 2011 , just when i thought yu was washed up & over #POW , an #earthquake . && we're back in !!

markos Markos Moulitsas
RT @lizzwinstead: Wall street Looters have taken to the streets. #Earthquake

JazzShaw Jazz Shaw
Breaking: Perry blames Obama for #earthquake. Huntsman blames the rest of the GOP field.

mikebarish Mike Barish
So, where's the good looting happening?

rob_sheridan Rob Sheridan
The collective eye-rolling of everyone in California is probably moving the earth more than the east coast #earthquake.

fbihop Matthew Reichbach
Clearly, Obama could have prevented this #earthquake if he wasn't on vacation.

Photo is of Veeka at a lovely beach in New Brunswick

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Three farewells

Today is Veeka's last day at St. Matthew's, the pre-K and kindergarten school that has been her home since we moved here three years ago this month. It has been one of the bright spots in our sojourn in Maryland, especially after Veeka left last fall to try another school that did not work out. She and I returned to St. Matthew's in late January to reculer pour mieux sauter, as the French would say. Which means to pull back so one can advance again. Today is the good-bye pizza party. What she's doing in the photo is painting a paper mache globe that's currently hanging from our porch. She will very much miss all her teachers, who have really stuck with her through lots of ups and downs. She will also miss the little brown bunny in the hallway cage who is always hungry to be petted.
The second farewell is to Rob Andrea, 27, an awfully nice guy I met while staying with his parents in Blacketts Lake at the eastern end of Nova Scotia. Rob had endured two bouts of cancer but he'd beaten it all. However, he'd found it necessary to adopt a super-organic diet so much of our conversation was about all the cool vegan recipes we were trying. When a mutual friend asked about us staying there, apparently it was Rob who urged his family to host us, as he wanted to meet a live author whose books he'd read. And we got some good conversations in while there although he was tired much of the time, from just having come off chemo, I thought.
Maybe it was something else. About a week after we left, his health took a dramatic turn for the worse when his heart gave out. He died Aug. 1. His dad wrote me to say 1,500 people attended his funeral at which six pastors presided. He left behind a wife and two small sons, one of which Veeka got to play with. The other was almost a newborn. They were so happy, after all that chemo, to even conceive a second child who unfortunately will never remember his dad. Man knows not his time. What a heartbreaker for the folks he left behind.
The third farewell (I am adding this a few days later) is to Mary Smith, a sweet woman living in St. Stephen's, New Brunswick. We stayed with her and her husband Bob the night of July 22. She was not well then. She died last night (Aug. 22), exactly one month later. I am sure glad we got to Canada when we did, for who would have dreamed....

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Connecticut nostalgia

During the three-day drive back from Canada, I made a stop in Waterford, a suburb of New London, Connecticut where I spent ages 6-10. Connecticut, by the way, is a most unfriendly state to travelers. There was no welcome center at the state line; the rest areas were horrible and it was clear that tourist amenities must have been high on the state's list of budget cuts.
We arrived in late afternoon and first pulled up our old house (see Veeka in blue standing in front) at 10 Leary Drive where we accidentally met the current residents who invited us in to see the house. Since our stay there from 1962-1966, a new wing had been added to the back of the house and everything had been remodeled. It was amazing to see the old den, the old fireplace, my old room (where a little boy now lives) that had so many memories to it. The dining room, which is where my mother did all her homework for her master's thesis (we had no home office). The stone wall to one side of the property where I must have sat as a kid. The trees I climbed up so I could find a perch to read. Yes, I literally read up in trees.
I dropped by some old neighbors who, amazingly, still lived across the street and updated myself a bit on who still lived where as I had not seen the place since my family came back for a quick visit in 1970. The man who had owned the blueberry bushes and who had paid us a quarter for each basket of berries we picked on cool early summer mornings had long since died. But the bushes were still there. The house where the mentally ill boy had lived was there but abandoned. The house where a nasty girl had lived who tormented me from first grade through third grade was still there. A lot of the woods where I once wandered alone to watch for birds (remember the days when kids could wander about alone and no one thought anything of it?) had been built up partly but there was still quite a few patches of trees, some of which I swung on as a kid. Veeka and I were amazed to see tons of deer walking about and even a fox.
We drove past my old elementary school which had recently been totally rebuilt and down Nichols Lane to Pleasure Beach where we used to swim. Just for fun, Veeka and I put on our suits and jumped in the water, as we were both pretty sweaty and it was sheer fun sitting in the sand under a summer July sky and remembering back to when I was her age. We moved to Connecticut from Maryland when I was 6. We drove up and down Quarry Road and Great Neck Road, down Shore Road past old haunts like Magonk Point and finally to Harkness Memorial State Park where the trees I'd sat under as a 10-year-old were still there. Unfortunately the restrooms were putrid - more state budget cuts? - and the sun was setting, so we drove to Lisa's Landing on Niantic Bay for the last seafood dinner of the trip.
Our time back here has been more prosaic. Unfortunately I broke my toe the next day as I was unloading the car upon arriving home so it's been a painful few weeks since then while I've been limping about. My little fashion plate daughter in her new red sunglasses given by her cousin Christina is enjoying being back with her little friends. And we've had lots of rain this weekend, which gives some hope to my parched yard and half-dead plants.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Canada reminisces

We're now into our second week of steaming hot weather and our times running about much cooler eastern Canada seem like a distant memory. It was the hottest July on record here and mercifully, we missed much of it. I drove 4,362 miles in 24 days. Although it was much more expensive than I thought it'd be, I am so glad we did this trip.
No huge news here although today another piece of mine appeared here in the Washington Post Sunday magazine.
Posted here is one of Cape Breton's bilingual English/Gaelic signs plus a few things - good and bad - that made our trip stand out:

1. $4.65/gallon gas
2. Magnetic Hill, a bizarre tourist attraction in Moncton, New Brunswick
3. Tons of peonies everywhere. Never seen so many. They obviously do well up there.
4. Tim Hortons, the omnipresent coffee/doughnut shop
5. St. Hubert's chicken sauce
6. the Canadian 'eh'?
7. how nearly everything in Atlantic Canada is named after a saint
8. rainbow roads: red asphalt in Nova Scotia and green in New Brunswick
9. red-winged blackbirds everywhere. They used to be down here years ago
10. Moose warning signs on the freeways
11. how the annual seal slaughter in the far north is referred to as 'Canada's cultural heritage'
12. 'dinner' there is 'lunch' down here.
13. bright, multi-colored rocking chairs on porches. That trend is making its way down here but the Canadians make theirs own of decent wood; ours are made of plastic or PVC-ugh