Last week we visited both my parents and got to see my Aunt Mary who was visiting from Florida.
It was a pretty busy visit. Chris drove to his brother's house in lower NY Thursday night, while I went further west to my parents' house. Chris was partially returning his brother's car – which had ended up with us in a roundabout way – but more importantly meeting our new niece! We spent Friday at our respective destinations, and my dad and I celebrated my mom's birthday, and then Saturday morning I drove down to join Chris and spend the day with baby CJ. She is very sweet (not even a month old!) and was sleepy most of the day, even as we walked around town. She perked up about an hour or so before we hit the road. It was very fun to meet a new member of the family. We also spent some quality time with their dog Banksy, who is quite the character. He and CJ share a birthday, exactly one year apart!
On Sunday, we were back upstate and went to Ithaca to walk along Taughannock Falls, which I hadn't visited in probably 15 years. It was definitely the first time I'd been with a digital SLR camera so there was the usual procedure where everyone walked along at their usual pace while I hung back eagerly getting the lighting right on various rocks and water features.
On Monday we capped off the trip with a DIY engagement photoshoot, but I'll share that in another post.
Chris and I are both fully vaccinated! Poor Chris got his second dose the day before his birthday and spent his birthday with a 100-degree fever. Our vaccines were staggered by about 2.5 weeks, with Chris fully vaccinated before me. Chris arranged both of his through CIC Health (the company I work for), though I had a slightly harder time because I needed two weeks of lead time to stop my immunosuppressant drugs; I managed to get my first appointment far in advance through Beth Israel. It was the same day as a rheumatology appointment which meant I had the vaccine and then blood work one after the other (multiple stickers and bandaids!) I also used the opportunity to bring in the latest comic pages to scan at the office, though it meant toting around a fairly heavy bag and with a lot of rain that day, I ended up getting some regrettable rug burn on my shoulder from the straps of my bag.
I did things a little differently with my second shot; traveling into the city means paying $20 for a commuter rail ticket and my appointment was in the middle of my work day. I decided to take advantage of the newly developed CIC Health walk-in feature the night before my existing appointment in the city. But as it turned out, it's the last week that CIC Health is operating vaccine distribution at Gillette (the most convenient location for us) and the after-hours schedule had been cut back, so we got there and the doors were closed. I ended up finding a Gillette appointment for the following day, cancelled my city appointment, and took a Lyft there (CIC Health was providing round trip Lyft rides for vaccine appointments). I got the shot, but then there were no Lyfts to be had back home since Gillette is in the middle of the suburbs, so I was stranded at the stadium for an hour and a half until Chris could leave work and come pick me up. The next day my temperature was a little high and I was feeling pretty foggy and tired so took a half sick day. But all that cleared up fairly quickly.
Over all, extremely relieved we have each had both shots and it was neat to get one of my shots through my place of work, and at Gillette no less. I'll be fully vaccinated on the 16th, and then a couple days later we do a little tour of NY to visit some family.
Before Chris started having side effects on his birthday/after shot #2, we checked out Ward's Berry Farm in Sharon, MA. They weren't doing berry picking yet, but there were a lot of animals to visit and I picked up a nice little turtle vine plant. I made a carrot cake that night, which we ate at his parents' the following day when he was feeling better. We saw a robin's nest in their shed.
It's finally fall, which means Halloween themed paper chains have been hung (by toy company eeBoo), mums have replaced our pansies, and pumpkins have joined the ranks. Hasn't scared this bumblebee away though.
In a couple weeks, Chris and I are planning to spend the weekend in Northampton, MA. When Sam and Deidre got married in September, some friends stayed at a nearby Airbnb; Chris stopped by to visit and thought it would be a great place for a weekend trip, so he booked the soonest dates. Work has been really stressful lately, so I can't wait to take a long weekend and get away from errands and housework and responsibilities. Counting down the days!
This afternoon a couple of friends and I went to Honeypot Farm to pick apples and grab cider donuts. It was pretty crazy because the weather was so beautiful, but I tried to avoid including the crowds in the pictures. Afterward, we got a tour of our friend's farm and got to hold some chickens and pet some sheep!
My plants are doing well, and now that it’s consistently warm, a lot of my indoor plants are living outside. Including my small army of baby aloe. The mama aloe just keeps having babies.
My friend Kara recommended to me an excellent collection of essays by Durga Chew-Bose last year. Her reflections on the dream of having a porch always make me think of the deck I suddenly gained access to when my landlord had it redone (because it was previously condemned and had no railing). I feel like even though I'm renting this deck month by month, I've gained "some semblance" of the mythologized porch, which Chew-Bose supposes is a place for listening to a parent's stories. (Over the last couple years I've been trying to track down family storytelling with a recorder too, even if it's just me hitting record on my phone when stories come up in conversation.)
Here's an excerpt from Too Much and Not the Mood:
“There are nights when I go to bed a little foolish and pretend the world is a disco ball and that the stars are simply reflected dots. That none of this is too dire and how the impossibility of knowing everything is an advantage. Most children grow up and plan to, at some stage, sit with a parents, a pad of paper, a voice recorder, and listen. Most children, despite good intentions, never make it happen.
Perhaps we’re waiting for our porch. We defer, defer, defer, and make excuses until we’ve won life’s ultimate lottery: the porch. The kind that wraps around. There’s something neutral about the conditions of its build: inside’s privacy, but outside, it’s an extension that stipulates the promise of delay. Imagine if our foreheads had porches jutting out from them? Maybe our brains would experience some reprieve.
On porches, conversation flows freely because silences, while weighty, aren’t strained. The faint interruption of a neighbor’s car pulling up the driveway or leaves rustling, or the benefits of a view in August, kink the air pressure that might exist between two people. A breeze jangles wind chimes and gently jolts us from ourselves. It’s harder to speak selfishly on a porch. Even when it’s hot, no one overheats. Picking a fight on a porch means you’ve missed the point entirely.
So, until then -- until the porch or some semblance of it -- we put off the pad of paper, the voice recorder. We are self-centered. We are out with friends, yet curious why. We are running late. Mentioning things in passing. Not picking up our phones. Lying on our stomachs. We are ambitious, only kind of. Obsessed to the point of --not boredom -- but reprise. We are incapable of writing a letter of condolence. We are vulnerable when it suits us. Taking aim when wearied. Clumsily articulate when expressing intense feelings, like subtitles in a foreign film. We are in the midst of, or have just inched past, our stretch. We read a book that alters us but never talk to our parents about the books that change our fabric, so instead, the weather. The rain. The snow in April.”
-Too Much and Not the Mood
Hannah Dunscombe is a painter and portrait artist based out of Mansfield, MA.