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Hi, Mom

Am taking advantage of a slight lull in the action on Thanksgiving vacation to actually start, which I promised myself I’d do a week or so ago. I was busy trying to keep other promises to myself.

It’s been a great trip home. My parents’ house offers its usual smorgasbord of good reading. I realize that my dad, with his ongoing work on Francis Bacon, has set the stage for a lot of my interest in the intersection of science and religion. Among the books I’ve started and am borrowing are Ghost Hunters, by Deborah Blum; The Looming Tower, by Lawrence Wright; and The Madman’s Tale, by John Katzenbach (a gal needs a break from seriousness now and then). Not yet used to the newly cold weather so have been exercising (in a feeble attempt to stay ahead of turkey, pie, etc.) indoors. Today was on my mom’s exercycle, facing a wall of books, authors and titles evoking images, dispensing advice, raising questions.

The big event today was getting to go visit the house where I grew up, which my parents sold in 1985 — that was 22 years ago, just as I was finishing grad school (the first time). We noticed that after years of being a hippie house and going downhill in comparison to the rest of the street, it was vacant, sold, and renovations appeared to have begun. The assessor’s site makes it easy to locate the owner, so with one or two phone calls, we were in touch with the very nice young man who seems to have the talent, inclination and appreciation for old homes that it’ll take to restore it to its Arts & Crafts period splendor. It wasn’t just me. The entourage included my husband and kids, parents, brother and sister-in-law, and nephews. And the new owner was nice enough to give us a welcoming speech about being part of the history of the house and all that. He’s already moved some walls, adding a main-floor bathroom and enlarging the one upstairs. Way too much of the interior became pink. And the basement smelled of cats. (At one point in the basement my son, who is 11, or “the big one one,” as he puts it, buried his face in my sleeve. I think it’s because mom is “odor neutral,” or it’s a way to reset his olfactory senses when they get too much of something unwelcome.) But the built-in bar was still there, and nothing had changed in the basement bathroom, which was always my dad’s, except someone had removed the New Yorker covers that lined it when we lived there. In the back yard, a tornado a few years ago took out the trio of birch trees where our treehouse was. The new owner called the garage a “carriage house” and my husband noted that the doors would be very high if they were just for cars. It’s the same brick-on-tile construction as the rest of the house, worth saving. The owner said he’d restore it, too, and eventually run electricity out to it.

Had a good visit yesterday with one of the few people from high school with whom I’ve kept in touch, if only once a year at Thanksgiving. It left me glad we’ve stayed in touch and grateful for my own and my family’s health.

Looking forward to traditional night-before-departure pasta dinner. Important to carbo-load before a seven-hour drive. It’s a recipe that came to us via my late aunt, who married into a big Sicilian family. 

So there’s really no end, no tidy conclusion, just gratitude for the chance to unplug from the usual routine and recharge by melding into the family flow. 

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