Friday, July 31, 2009

Worst Morning Ever

If, a few days ago, you’d asked me to describe the most hideous morning of personal torture I could imagine, I probably would have described a morning much like this one: four blood tests in four hours. I failed my glucose tolerance test this week, and so today was my more diagnostically rigorous follow-up, involving eight hours of fasting, a post-fasting blood test, a drink of cringe-inducing glucose serum, and then a blood test every hour for three hours. Now I get to wait and see if I have gestational diabetes.

I made the morning as tolerable as possible for myself by waiting until today to start reading The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, a book whose release I’ve been eagerly anticipating all summer. It’s set in Barcelona—a gothic, mysterious Barcelona—and definitely made the time pass quickly.

By the time I left, with bandages on each arm and each hand, I looked pretty pathetic. Andrew picked me up and we went for lunch at Panera, where the cashier took one look at me and asked, aghast, “What have they done to you, you poor pregnant girl?”

Indeed. But four blood tests can’t compare to labor, which two of the three blood-drawers today helpfully reminded me. Helpful.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Things People Say

Now that I’m visibly pregnant to one and all, people are finding it within their right to a) comment on whether I’m the “right” size, and b) regale me with the horror stories of strangers. A few days ago, an older woman who lives across the street expressed her surprise--nay, her dismay--that I could possibly be seven months along. “I would’ve said four months,” she said. (For the record, I am, indeed, the “right” size. I confirmed this with the midwife on Monday.)

Yesterday, while I was captive in the dentist chair, the dental hygienist spent the entire appointment telling me about her own miscarriage as well as the miscarriage—and late-term infant death—of a friend of hers. I don’t know what would possess someone to casually tell a pregnant woman about the horrible way her friend’s baby died in utero two weeks before term. I just don’t know. It’s one thing to hear a story about a friend or relative. It’s another thing entirely to hear a story about a stranger from another stranger without any clear moral or purpose. The story had no possible lesson (“And that’s why you shouldn’t eat granola or chicken in your eighth month!”) except to let me know I should be afraid, very afraid.

She, too, raised her eyebrows when I said seven months—“You’re so tiny!” I said I had a long torso, which our midwife suggested as a response. (She also suggested just denying I was pregnant in order to humiliate the inappropriate commenter. I like this midwife.) Two more months to be amazed at all the crazy things people say.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Observations on a Warm Evening

We had a local weekend of baby-gear shopping, farmer’s-marketing, Ikea-assembling, swimming, grilling. Saturday we went back to a baby store we like and pushed around a bunch of strollers, still debating on which to purchase; I think we’ve finally decided on a jogging stroller called the BOB Revolution, which we’ll use with an infant car seat adapter until the baby’s big enough to use the stroller as is. From the reviews we’ve read, it seems most people love it and are perfectly happy using just one stroller, with other strollers gathering dust in their garages. We’re not ready to pull the trigger, but we’re getting close. As the due date nears, our starry-eyed shopping is getting a little more practical—it matters now whether a stroller is huge, and heavy, and impractical, even if it’s European and adorable.

The farmer’s market is unbelievably satisfying these days, and for the past couple of weeks we’ve come home absolutely laden down with fruits and veggies. This weekend we bought a watermelon, two cantaloupes (50 cents each), peaches, pluots, strawberries, cucumbers (5 for $1), and tomatillos. We passed up the tomatoes since a neighbor of ours, who apparently has a large garden, has been keeping us well-stocked.

Our pool was surprisingly peaceful this weekend—Friday evening, hardly anyone was there, and there were very few people on Sunday late-afternoon. Blissful—almost like having a private pool. We both went swimming then read for a while in the poolside lounge chairs. Andrew looked longingly at a couple sharing a pitcher of cold beer, but settled for a Gatorade. Such is the live of a nonpregnant spouse.

Sunday night, Andrew made burgers on the grill, and I made a side dish of cucumbers with basil, lemon, and cream. We had watermelon for dessert. It was warm out, but we were cool from swimming, so we ate in the backyard. We could hear music from the park a few blocks away. I was still in my bathing suit, with a still-fits-but-just-barely cover-up, which I had also worn to the grocery store.

“Sometimes I wonder,” Andrew said pensively as we sat quietly over our empty plates. “Sometimes I wonder how we got here—from living in New York, and Spain, to being married and pregnant and living in Northern California.” (You’ll have to trust me when I say he wasn’t equating marriage and pregnancy with living in NorCal; I’m paraphrasing.) It does seem incredible how much has changed in the five-plus years we’ve been together. But we weren’t frowning in displeasure or frustration at our lot—just observing. Soon we got too warm and went back inside.

Monday, July 27, 2009

BOYCOTT FRANCE

Last week, Andrew and I were driving home from the pool one evening and stopped behind a pickup truck at a red light. On the truck’s bumper was a sticker advising us to BOYCOTT FRANCE. The pickup was pretty beat-up, and the guy driving it was wearing a baseball cap, and as we sat at the light Andrew and I wondered what sort of involvement this person might have had with France that would make such a boycott effective. Did he purchase a lot of imported cheese or wine? Did he regularly fly to France for lavish vacations, spending economy-boosting tourist dollars? Did he have some sort of large investment portfolio in French companies? We couldn’t imagine a realistic scenario where this person’s boycott would have any effect on France whatsoever. And as he peeled away when the light turned green, it was clear that France would probably not miss him.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Daddy’s Book

Today I sat down to read to the baby, and I posed a challenge for myself: the book I selected to read was The Velveteen Rabbit. I got it from a friend as a shower gift, and though I’ve always considered this book off-limits for me for reasons of emotional sanity (along with all books in which an animal, particularly a dog, dies), I decided it was time, now that I’m about to be a mother, to read it again. It had been, in my estimation, over twenty years since I’d read it. Surely, surely, it couldn’t be as bad as I remembered. It has a happy ending, right?

The baby and I sat down on the couch. (Well, I sat down. The baby had no choice.) “We’re going to read The Velveteen Rabbit,” I announced bravely. I admired the first few illustrations—it’s a beautiful edition, with oil-painted renderings. I read the first page, and the second, and the third. The baby began moving. We had a fan! An emotionally strong fan.

And then I got to this line: “When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” And that was that. I began crying too hard to continue reading out loud. I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to finish reading it to myself. I did, barely, winding up with a pile of tissues and red eyes.

When, in a few years, our little girl toddles up holding The Velveteen Rabbit and says, “Mommy, let’s read this!” I know what my response will be. “Remember, my lamb?” I’ll say (will I call her My Lamb?). “This is the book only Daddy reads. Let Mommy finish her wine, now, and take it over to him.” I’ll feel bad, but I know my limitations. And a nervous breakdown at bedtime probably isn’t a healthy precedent to set.

A Foot

Last night, I was lying in front of a fan, feeling the baby kick, and I pulled up my shirt so Andrew and I could see some of the movements. Suddenly, the baby gave a hard kick straight up and left her leg extended—there, protruding from my stomach, was a very foot-like bulge. It was like she did a graceful leg extension to show off her tiny foot, giving us ample time to admire it. Oh, hello there, she seemed to be saying. Isn’t my foot just adorable?

(Of course, it could also have been a fist, raised in a kind of victory: Only 93 degrees today? Yes!!)

News Avoidance

I’ve been having a hard time watching and reading the news these days—it’s just too upsetting. And it’s too hot here to be upset. “Birthers”? Resistance to healthcare reform? It’s too much, too ridiculous. How could anyone be opposed to healthcare reform? It boggles the mind. Andrew and I have outstanding health insurance, and, if there is reform, I wouldn’t necessarily want our coverage to change at all. But we’re lucky. Lots of people aren’t. I’m on board with any reform that means no one has to face financial ruin because of unexpected emergencies, sick people don’t have to ration their prescriptions, people with pre-existing conditions aren’t cast off by insurance companies, and no one has to worry about whether they can afford to see a doctor when they suspect something is seriously wrong.

Not to sound all flag-waving about it, but these things shouldn’t happen in this country. I hope by the time our baby is able to understand how lucky she is to get to see a doctor whenever she needs to such a “privilege” won’t be anything remarkable at all. I believe Obama will get it done, I really do. I’m constantly amazed by his laser-like focus, his ability to continue to function effectively when a bunch of crazies are screaming about his birth certificate. But it’s a lot of enraging news to deal with (or avoid in disgust) in the meantime.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pooling Around

The insane temperatures of last weekend prompted us to get serious about finding a pool here in Roseville in which we can spend the next 11 weeks of my pregnancy. There are several public pools around, but they’re only open for a couple of hours each afternoon; so Monday we called the local “raquet club” and went for a tour. We are now members, free to use either of their two enormous outdoor pools until 10:30pm every night, and the nonpregnant half of can get back to elliptical running and weight lifting. (The pregnant half of us could, I suppose, run too, but yoga and swimming are more my speed.) Swimming in the hot evenings—bliss.

We went swimming yesterday, and it truly was wonderful. At 7:30pm it wasn’t very crowded—just a few kids splashing around, and a couple of swimming lessons going on. The smell of chlorine, and the sight of swimming lessons, always throws me back to my own years of swimming lessons—summers full of them, usually followed, in the afternoons, by more swimming. It was lovely to do some nice easy laps, weightless.

When I stepped out of the pool, however, I wasn’t weightless—I felt heavy. Really heavy. I hadn’t experienced the real weight of the pregnancy in a visceral way before that moment of stepping from water to land, but there it was—it felt like an effort to walk. I haven’t gained an ungodly amount of weight yet, but it’s a significant portion of my original weight, and I felt it as I waddled to a lounge chair in my cute maternity swimsuit.

The baby was kicking a lot as I sat and dried off. I think she was relishing the feeling of being cool, so very, very cool.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

We’re HAVING a Baby

Last night, Andrew and I went to our first pregnancy class, focusing on the third trimester and postpartum matters. The real reason we took this class was to get a tour of the hospital where we’ll be delivering the baby. It’s about six minutes from our house—and directly across the street from Andrew’s office. You can see his office park from some of the hospital windows. The other possible view is of a Target.

Despite the not-so-stellar views, the hospital is very nice, and almost brand-new—it opened in January. I don’t know what’s standard these days and what’s not, but every woman has a private room for triage, delivery, and recovery, along with a private bathroom with shower for the final two stages. There were flat-screen TVs, DVD players, and mini-fridges in the delivery rooms, as well as plenty of space for moving around and a couch for the “coach” to sleep on. One man on our tour expressed his disappointment that the rooms were not equipped with wi-fi. Personally, I can’t imagine anything I’d less want to do than watch TV or check my email or Google things while I’m in labor—or have Andrew fiddling around with whatever fantasy sports team he’ll have in October—but perhaps that’s just me. And I will not be live-blogging, Twittering, or Facebooking the birth either. Or photographing. Or videotaping. I’m going to pretend I’m giving birth circa 1989, rather than 2009.

Despite the well-equipped rooms, this was definitely a hospital, but fortunately without the horrible, soul-sucking anxiety and sadness I sense in other hospitals, since this one is devoted solely to women (i.e., birthing). And there are midwives on duty 24 hours a day. I’ve been doing a bit too much reading about childbirth (at this point, one book counts as too much for me), and have grown alarmed at the possibility of a forced/coerced C-section—not for an emergency reason, which would be different altogether, but for a sinister money-making reason, like needing to get a new patient in the room. This hospital’s C-section rate is 29%. However, the number wasn’t broken down at all into planned/unplanned or emergency/nonemergency surgeries, so I don’t think it’s really very meaningful.

“Have you been watching The Business of Being Born?” the instructor asked nicely but somewhat warily when I approached her with my question. Indeed, this birthing expose is on our Netflix queue. At this point, I was thinking about Misconceptions by Naomi Wolf, lent to me by Michelle (prompting Andrew, when I read things from the book to him in alarm a few weeks ago, to suggest I not read any more books from Michelle).

Actually seeing the delivery rooms was a bit shocking—we’re going to have a baby. Until seeing these the emphasis would have been on the baby part. But now the act of having is starting to become a little more real. Not terrifying, exactly, but unnerving, like knowing there’s going to be a huge test at the end of the semester on material I have only the most basic grasp of. Like biology. It’s not time to study just yet, but it may be time to start reviewing some notes. Or creating notes to review. Or at least finding the notebook where said notes might eventually be written.

Monday, July 20, 2009

We're All Just Buns in the Oven

Saturday, Andrew and I took a little drive through hell to reach the not-so-hellish Napa, where Andrew would run a half-marathon. Our car still does not have air-conditioning, and as we drove through all the Worst Places on Earth—Vacaville, Fairfield, and on down—the temperature got hotter and hotter, reaching a sultry 104. We were melting. My poor baby must have felt like a bun in an actual oven. In a kind of desperation we stopped at a grocery store for cold drinks; in even more desperation we finally pulled into Sonoma for the race expo, where I procured a can of energy drink to press onto my scalding skin. I was reduced, as I am every year when the temperatures, as promised, pass the 100 mark and stay there, to a sputtering, walking fountain (lava fountain) of hatred, ready to take to the highway and not look back until my feet are in the Atlantic Ocean. Andrew directed his frustration and hatred at the car, threatening as we drove to get into an intentional accident.

Earlier in the drive, before we’d melted and while we were still able to talk civilly to each other, we saw a man of a Certain Age driving a red convertible with the license plate “BLANK IT” down Interstate 80. Whenever I see such a car and driver in NorCal, especially in wine country, I like to call them “California Dreamin’”—people whose goal in life has clearly been to chuck it all, buy a convertible, and move to California. This man in particular seemed to have a jaunty disposition, as though he’d left a wife and family behind—Blank it, I’m moving to California! At that point we were passing some lovely, treeless housing developments, baking in the sun, and were between two shopping plazas. Ha, we thought, is this what you’d imagined? How d’you like California now, buddy?

Finally, finally, we reached Beth and Nate’s house in the significantly cooler Napa, where we were excited to see that the babies had learned our names. We had a lovely dinner at a pizza place, then sat out in their backyard after the babies’ bedtime, where we were actually chilly.

Sunday morning was the half-marathon—from Napa to Sonoma—and Andrew did splendidly, beating his time goal, despite some foot trouble earlier in the week. We’d planned to meet him at the end, but as we were driving to the central square, I actually spotted him on the course. I jumped out and managed to see him cross the finish line. He had a nasty blister but otherwise seemed unscathed, and it was a beautiful, cool morning. We had some breakfast and eyed strollers while the babies played at the playground, a place where I now feel I have a certain right to be since I’m visibly pregnant. I’m no longer a creepily lurking adult.





After a nice lunch with Beth and Nate, we were back on the road. It was another hot drive. And it just got hotter the closer we got to home, peaking at 111. Our house felt like an oven. It felt like an oven even after we turned on the AC, took cold showers, and got Blizzards from DQ. We slept in the guest room, which was significantly cooler than our bedroom.

It’s going to be in the high 90s-100s all week. Truly, this is awful. Every year, as the fall, winter, and spring lull us with their endlessly mild temperatures and normal (though endless) sunshine, I feel like we fall into a kind of complacency, nodding in reluctant acceptance that, maybe, it’s not so bad to live here, and hey—that low cost of living. And then BAM. Summer. BAM. BAM BAM BAM. I literally felt beat up last night, drained and exhausted by 9pm. Remember now, why you can’t wait to leave? Remember now?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Little Perks

I really love being pregnant. I can say that since I had no morning sickness and remain symptom-free other than occasional annoying, but not debilitating, back pain and a tendency to become regularly overheated even if a room is air-conditioned. But I love watching my changing size, and I especially love feeling all the baby’s movements. Yesterday I read a little of my book, Cathedral of the Sea, out loud to her—it takes place in Barcelona in the 1300s. Later, Andrew read her a little of Colm Toibin’s Homage to Barcelona. Both times, she expressed her pleasure with a dance-like series of movements that felt more like moonwalks than kicks. That’s our girl.

I also love being pregnant for all the little perks. I’m now 100% unambiguously pregnant—to the point where people can say “Oh, a baby!” or “When are you due?” without fear of a making a terrible faux pas. On the plane back from Pennsylvania, we were delayed while sitting on the plane, and a flight attendant, unasked, brought me a huge bottle of water “for the two of you.” Last night, Andrew and I went to dinner at a great Greek restaurant we love called the Greek Village Inn, where we ordered our normal fare of skoldalia (garlic dip), avoglemeno soup (chicken, rice, lemon), and gyros sandwiches. After the dip, though, came two spanokopita with spinach and feta, then two similar triangles filled with feta and cream cheese. The owner was sending everything over, for the baby. “Pregnant women always get a little extra,” he said. “You need to eat.” The waitresses all cooed and asked when the baby was due. We ordered baklava for dessert—but what arrived was baklava as well as a huge other dessert, a phyllo dough, custard, and whipped cream extravaganza that he said was the house favorite. When he went to wrap up our remaining baklava, he brought back a container with about four new pieces. We were charmed. We were also stuffed to the gills, barely able to make the drive home.

It’s been in the 100s all week—yesterday it was 105—which definitely isn’t fun. But I’ve just been lying low in the AC, drinking buckets of water, working, reading, enjoying pregnancy’s little perks.

Monday, July 13, 2009

COM. MARGO!

My baby shower was Saturday, and I’ve never experienced such an overload of cuteness. Tiny dresses and outfits; cute bedding and blankets; a tiny bathing suit; adorable children’s books—it was enough to make one want to have a baby. Good thing I’m already having one. Now we just have to hope the ultrasound didn’t sneakily hide any boy parts…

The shower was really fun, even though the rainy, humid day precluded our plans to have it outside in our beautiful, flower-laden yard. Socializing, a delicious lunch (chicken salad on croissants, green beans, green salad, fruit salad, deviled eggs, cheese and crackers), dessert (cake, biscotti, chocolate-covered strawberries), and gift-opening made the time fly by. I’m really glad I had a chance to be home this week, and for everyone to see me in all my big-bellied glory. It was enough to make someone want to exclaim, “Com. Margo!”

“Com. Margo” was apparently the message the cake bakers at the local grocery store thought appropriate for a baby shower, as this was the message that greeted my confused father when he went to pick up the cake that morning. “Everything look okay?” the baker said, briefly lifting the cake-box lid. Dad glanced at the cake and said, “Fine.” Then he said, “Wait a second.” I received a somewhat frantic phone call from Dad, asking what Mom had requested as a message for the cake. “Congratulations, Margo,” I said. Dad hung up before I could say anything more.

It turns out that when Mom ordered the cake, the woman taking the order had written “Con. Margo” in the message area, simply abbreviating “Congratulations.” The cake decorator, who apparently lacks both logic and imagination as well as handwriting-reading skills, transcribed it exactly as written, but substituting “m” for “n,” not bothering to stop for a moment and wonder whether “Com. Margo” made any sense whatsoever in the context of pink flowers and baby rattles.

“I thought it was strange,” she agreed when Dad pointed out that “Com. Margo” was not the message we’d ordered, let alone a phrase that had any actual meaning. “I thought it was French or something.”

Or something, indeed. They managed to fix the cake quite nicely, and no one would have been the wiser had we not told the story to everyone we could.

Yesterday, I flew back to California, my two weeks of respite on the East Coast over. It was very strange to both be in and leave Connellsville, knowing that the next time I’m there I’ll have an actual baby, not just a baby bump. Until this weekend, I’d been focusing my time-measuring on the time left until the shower. Now we’re left with just one more big event to anticipate: the baby’s arrival.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Small-Town Charm, the Original

I’ve written before how Andrew and I are working to embrace the surprising small-town charm of our non-shopping-plaza-riddled section of Roseville. The small-town charm that does exist, however, is tainted somewhat by the fact that there’s a major highway a block away and Louis Vuitton within a five-minute drive. Over the past two weeks, however, I’ve been lucky enough to be immersed in some genuine small-town experiences.

In Cornish, for example, the nearest grocery store is the Price Chopper in Windsor, Vermont—a store that, we discovered, carries neither fresh parsley nor cauliflower nor penne pasta nor capers. Last night, here in Connellsville, I went with Mom and Dad to our church picnic, where the Italian food offerings have people lining up for NYC-caliber amounts of time. Worth it, though, for the cavatelli and pierogies (a non-Italian interloper left over from the former Polish priest’s tenure). A dish of homemade cavatelli: $3. Two enormous homemade pierogies smothered in onions and butter: $1.50.

And on Wednesday we made a stop at Lynn’s for wing night—probably a shock for my fruit/veggie/yogurt-saturated baby. A dozen wings are less than $5.

It’s also a kind of small-town feeling to go to all these places as a visibly pregnant woman being escorted by her parents (Andrew’s back at work in California). Fortunately, most of the people we run into around here are friends or family members, so the only eyebrows raised are the ones in my imagination.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Gabe’s II

Another Gabe’s, another haul of maternity and baby clothes. Total bill: $27. Total items: five maternity shirts, a sports bra (size XL!!!), and a staggeringly cute baby dress that will make our baby look like she should be in New Hampshire in the 1800s. Mom purchased an adorable baby outfit as well, an economical instance ($4) of grandparently splurging.

At the beginning of my pregnancy, I vowed that I was going to try to spend minimal money on maternity clothes, borrowing or adapting whatever I could. Well, I did borrow (thanks Beth and Michelle). I had a nice parental maternity-clothes shopping trip in California (thanks Mom and Dad). And for a while, I did adapt, wearing my roomiest, elastic-waisted things. The adapting days are over. The bump is simply too large to accommodate anything but true maternity waistbands. My old tops reach only to about mid-navel, if they fit over my chest at all. Most of my skirts won’t go over my hips. And I have three months to go—I certainly can’t be wearing the same things all the time. Now, however, I think I’m set. I ordered a black maternity skirt from Old Navy.com last night and I think I’m set. I may have to get another pair of jeans but really I think I’m set. My Birkenstocks could use replacing, but really I think I’m set.

Before this month, it had literally been a year or more since I’d bought myself any significant new clothes. Having a radically new body has changed this. Thank goodness for Gabe’s.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Uncharted Gabe's Territory

“Stop it, Jared. Stop it, or I’m gonna whup ya. I’m gonna whup ya.”

When I heard these gentle, motherly words Monday night, I knew for sure I was back in southwestern Pennsylvania. In fact, I was at Gabe’s. And what a Gabe’s trip it was. I expected to come away only with, perhaps, a few baby clothes—but instead I got a big haul for myself, despite the fact that there is no real maternity clothes section. Rack after rack of clearance items yielded large, flowing peasant-style tops and empire-waisted dresses and shirts, many of which, somehow, fit over my pregnant belly and newly enormous chest. The most expensive thing I bought was $9.99. The rest of my purchases were $3, $5, or $7, including a $3 Topshop top with the £20 price tag still attached. (That shirt, incidentally, does not fit over my belly. But I will save it until post-baby.)

The big discovery of the night was the Gabe’s baby section, where, until this trip, I had never before ventured. I know absolutely nothing about good brands of baby clothes, so I had to trust my judgment about how things looked and felt. And I had to really restrain myself from simply buying a million outfits. I wound up with six outfits—the most expensive of which was $3. The rest were $2. I have a feeling I’ll be sending Mom and Dad on lots of Gabe’s errands in the months ahead.

My total haul includes the following: two Urban Outfitters dresses (original price $58; paid $7 each); five shirts; one pair of sandals; one nightgown; and six adorable baby outfits. Total charge: $67. And that was just the Uniontown Gabe’s. We’ll hit the Greensburg Gabe’s this week as well.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

26 Weeks in New Hampshire



I seem to have lost count of my weeks of pregnancy—I was thinking for some reason that this was my 28th week, but I just looked at a calendar and realized I was wrong. Sunday started my 26th week. Flying from CA to NH last week wasn’t fun, but it was more because of turbulence and motion sickness than any pregnancy-related problems. Aside from returning to CA next week, I shouldn’t have to fly cross-country again until after the baby’s born…and Andrew and I become one of the over-burdened parent-travelers with piles of baby gear and bags in the security line. Good times.

A Lovely Week in Cornish

Our week in New Hampshire is over, and it is terrible to imagine that we won’t be back until next year. Once a year isn’t nearly enough—and if we had our way, we’d be situated closely enough to go regularly, once or twice a month or even every weekend. There’s a timeless quality to the house and grounds, and being there makes the rest of the world feel very far away.

Much of the world seemed to be in Cornish this year, however. Molly and Ian came for a few days; several of the Littells’ friends came; and Mom and Dad came for a few days at the end of the week. It was not exactly a relaxing time—everyone’s stacks of books went more or less unread—and it rained almost every day; yet the days passed pleasantly with Scrabble, meals, and conversation. Molly, Ian, Andrew, and I tried to swim in the river a couple of times, but it was too rainy and chilly. When Mom and Dad and I flew home, they said they could hardly remember not being in New Hampshire—it has that kind of timeless effect. I can’t think of anyplace else even remotely like it.

Though Andrew and I will be back to Cornish, this trip marked our last trip there as a twosome—next time we go, we’ll have a baby with us. I think it will be so much fun to have our little girl there—there are so many fun things to do outside, like spotting frogs in the pond and hiking in the woods and canoeing on the river; and, if I have my way, the house will continue to be a media-free zone, a place free from video games and TV. To me it seems like the absolutely most blissful place to spend childhood summers. Our daughter will be very lucky if Cornish can become part of her life.

She was kicking maniacally all week—at night it felt like a baby aerobics class was taking place in my uterus—and I take this as a sign that she enjoyed her time there.

California seemed very far away all week, as, indeed, it was. It still seems far away now—I am in Pennsylvania until next Sunday, prolonging my time on the East Coast, though it’s much less fun with Andrew back in Roseville. I came across this passage in an article about California politics in the Times Magazine yesterday, and though the article is referring to Sacramento in the governmental sense, I read it with a kind of recognition:

“Calamity is just part of the equation here, as if God gave California so much glamour and grandeur and great weather that he had to throw in some apocalyptic menace to provide a little balance. Earthquakes, say. Or Sacramento.”

An apocalyptic menace. That sounds about right. I hope I don’t make a mistake on Sunday and accidentally get on a plane back to New Hampshire. That would be a terrible, terrible shame.