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July 23, 2012

High Summer

“A good night sleep, or a ten minute bawl, or a pint of chocolate ice cream, or all three together, is good medicine.”
― Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

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I'm savoring my way through Dandelion Wine this summer, so I am heady with the wistful, spicy sentimentality of Ray Bradbury. There are certain stories for certain seasons, you know, and Dandelion Wine is one of the most perfect spun summer tales. It's a kid's story about town and family and tradition and change, and easily makes you think about your own town and family and tradition and change.

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We bought a bike rack and it took us to a new place in our vicinity that we'd never seen: the bike trails around Lake MacBride.

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We're growing eggplants, new front teeth, and a little less fond of one another with each passing day.

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We're sampling a lot of ice cream in the high summer heat: strawberry, chocolate, mint, and dirt cup (vanilla with crushed oreos and gummy worms).

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We're getting a little older this summer, but we're still having fun and we're still just as cute.

July 10, 2012

A Special Moment at the Dentist

As a nurse, I really try very hard to keep my personal stories to myself when I perform my daily patient care tasks. Unless my patients specifically ask or I feel that telling "here's what happened to me" would benefit my patient in a direct and real way, I don't share my birth stories or my kids' ages or my thoughts on parenting [other than what I'm mandated to advise by my nursing role (i.e., Back to Sleep, umbilical cord care, breastfeeding positioning, pumping tips)]. Of course, I engage in a small talk and chit-chat, but generally, I try to stay in the patient's moment, admire their child for his or her special uniqueness, and be otherwise a necessary, but unobtrusive presence in this special moment.

I imagine that dentists feel the same way.

Yesterday I arrived at my dentist's office to share a special moment when he drilled out and filled a long-standing "watch" on #12 and filed down a notorious filling on #13 that had been shredding dental floss.

Now, dentists and their hygienists are in a really tough spot. Here they are, trying to act professional, calm, non-chalant even, while they are hard at work in a small, dark, cramped space using itty-bitty instruments. What's even more difficult is that in these situations they always seem to work in pairs: dentist and hygienist. So, what are they to do while they drill and grind, but make boring small talk with one another about benign, inoffensive topics to soothe and calm a nervy patient? You, the nervy patient, have no hope of being involved in the conversation - beyond some well-placed non-verbal assents and denials - because of all the accoutrement gathered in your mouth and impeding the movement of your tongue. You're lucky if you can swallow, much less speak with any clarity.

For most of of humanity perhaps this is a non-issue; perhaps most dental patients would rather ignore the quiet patter of conversation between dentist and hygienist and focus instead on the pain, or at least, the possibility of pain.

But, for me, I'd rather chat, and alleviate some of my pain worries with some good distraction. My dentist is Italian. My hygienist is from Sioux City, near Vermillion. They are a hilarious duo. He's soft-spoken, erudite, accented and olive-skinned. She's down-to-earth, loud, accented in a Midwestern way and fake-baked. They have a lot of funny, interesting things to say about the world from their various viewpoints.

Me (just before the rubber dam blocked my ability to chat): So, have either of you taken a summer vacation yet?

Hygienist: Oh, if I could be so lucky! A trip to Costco is like a vacation for me! (Aside: Iowa City just got a Costco store and everybody's very excited about it) But, Dr. G- just got back from Italy. He abandoned us for three weeks.

Me: (to Dr. G-) Uhn? (as if to say, "Really?"

Dentist (softly, with style): Yes, yes.

Hygienist (loudly, in her own style): He never brings me back any noodles when he goes, though. I get all my noodles from Costco!

Dentist (smiling and shrugging): Ah, well ...

Hygienist: Yup. I suppose you went sailing over the 4th, too, huh Dr. G-?

Dentist: No, no ... It was much too hot and with all the rigging ... Well ...

Hygienist: I just stayed in the air with my dog. We had a good time.

After 45 minutes, they'd fixed my teeth, but I sort of wanted to take them out for coffee, just to watch them chat a little more. It was the most entertaining dental appointment I've had in a long time.

July 8, 2012

The First of the Last

While sitting with our friends on the Old Capitol Lawn- one of the only two families to enjoy the sweltering heat interrupted occasionally by slight breezes and gulped Arnold Palmers- all underscored by a an acoustic guitar/vocal set- I remarked to dear Pam that this 4th of July was the first of our last days. We won't have another 4th of July in Iowa City. This coming first day of Horn School will be the last of its kind. Octoberfest in the Amana Colonies will be a tiny foamy Gotterdammerung, and so on until June of 2013.

It is probably not that atypical for a family to move every 4-5 years in this day and age, but I'm ready to be done with it. I sincerely hope that this next move is a generational effort, that we plant trees that will grow to shade whole yards and vines that supply crates of modestly drinkable vintage. Adelaide (old soul that she is) and I have discussed on a few occasions the strange fact that, as full of a life as she has led here in Iowa City, it is not actually where she will grow up. Ten years from now she'll remember in scraps and smells what now seems to her like a whole world.

But every place leads to a New World. Maybe we will put roots down in our next locale, but we are a restless people.

July 4, 2012

The Fourth with Friends

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Henry and Adelaide dressed in their Fourth finery as we prepare to leave for the parade.

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At the parade, Adelaide commandeered some other kid's chair with her friends, Gracie and Gwynnie.

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Later, we picnicked in front of the Old Capitol (in the 101 degree heat) with our friends Fiona and Malcolm.

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Hooray for the Fourth! Hooray for our friends!

July 3, 2012

Swimmin' Pool Time!

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This summer both Adelaide and Henry are enrolled in swimming lessons at our fancy schmancy indoor recreation center. On Tuesday mornings, we hang out at the pool for nearly three hours, perfecting our floats, our glides, and our strokes. Joel and I kind of have a one-extra-curricular-activity-at-a-time, not including swimming lessons or Sunday School. Swimming lessons are compulsory here in Toadsland, but fun!

Adelaide started swimming lessons back in Vermillion when she was a wee babe, but didn't really take to the water until this Spring. Now, she swims and dives (!!) with confidence. It's awesome to see her swim her backstroke and crawl down and back the length of the pool. One of her favorite water moves is the hilarious and fun "CANNONBALL!"

Hal has always loved the water, not perhaps from his very first bath, but in infancy certainly. His water prowess this winter, performing stunts like floating, splashing his face in the water and the like, led me to register him for lessons. Now, armed with his favorite gogs, Henry's face in more within the water than without. He glides underwater unassisted, holding his breath for a full stroke; pretty good for a three year-old, I think. He makes me giggle with his courage. One of Henry's favorite jumps is entitled "Falling Log," and I'm sure you can imagine the style of the jump from it's title.