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home, still hot

The weather is mind-boggling – have I said that before? Hot hot sun, breezy, sublime – not just in Washington but in Toronto, since I came home this afternoon to the same gorgeous weather.

Friday afternoon I went to visit old old friends Judith and Leon Major – Judith’s parents were my parents’ great friends in Halifax in the Sixties, and so I’ve known Leon and Judith all my life. They’ve lived in Washington for decades, Leon teaching opera production. Judith told me that in 1965 my father called them to ask their advice – his daughter loved the Beatles and not Mozart, what should he do? Poor dad. (And now, Dad, I love both. You needn’t have worried.)

That night, a family dinner at Barbara’s. Her second husband Dan had two adopted Korean children when he married Barb; their daughter Mia came with her Swedish husband and two sons, just a tich younger than my grandchildren. The air rang with the voices of little boys and new family for me. Heaven.

Saturday Barb, Dan, Barb’s younger sister Francey and I went for a hike on the Billy Goat trail at Great Falls, on the most glorious October 21 in memory. (click to enlarge)

 Not that far from the White House.

Cousins squinting in the sun. Matching chins.

My Washington family on my mother’s side. After the hike, I said goodbye to Barb and Dan, and Francey drove the two of us to Frederick, a hip town in northern Maryland, full of antique and record stores, where I treated her to lunch – the best crab cakes I’ve ever had and a local hoppy craft beer – and then we drove to her isolated house in acres of woods on top of a mountain. She’s a recluse who has an amazing list of hobbies; she’s a master knitter and a harpist and pianist who is teaching herself the viola da gamba; she and her husband raise big dogs, right now a wolfhound and a borzoi, and she is very serious about calligraphy.

A concert on one of her four harps.

Brianna lounging. An enormous wolfhound.

Practicing her letters. I spent the night there in the tranquillity of this mountaintop home where, however, the nearest neighbours are rabid Trump supporters. I myself would not want to live so far away from everything, but it suits Francey. Joe her husband was in Japan receiving an award for his work as a physicist. We sat in tilting leather chairs drinking American champagne and watching their giant TV screen – Francey’s favourite program about British people who want to move to the country, and then the first episode of the new American series Mindhunter. Disturbing and terrific.

This morning Francey drove me to Dulles, an hour and a half. Luckily she likes driving. I had bought new sunglasses which have magic lenses – everything looked stunning, the colours much more vibrant than they actually were on another heavenly day, as the leaves slowly turn, a month late. We talked too much about You Know Who. Of course.

At Dulles, in the bookstore, a whole section for religious books and various bibles. They are not like us.

A painless fight home – in fact, wonderful, I sat next to a young red-headed Quebecois man who was deaf and covered with tattoos, wearing an anti-fur-trade t-shirt in French – we wrote messages to each other. He was adorable. Home through the usual traffic jam – maybe Toronto traffic is as bad as Washington’s.

My tenant Elodie had left me a gift – she’s a florist and had bought and arranged these beauties. So good to be home! Pray I sleep tonight.

Gifts from the trip: Francey did some calligraphy for me,

and Barbara gave me these – part of a tea set belonging to my great-great-grandmother Elizabeth Bates in Northampton. So many gifts from both sides of my family. And then I went for a walk in my ‘hood, gearing up for Hallowe’en – this is just up the street. Glad to be home. It was a superb trip.

Randy Bachman is blasting on the radio, the back door is wide open, soon there’s great Sunday night TV, and then I’ll be in my own bed. And what I’d like to say to that is: YES.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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