Getting to Cape Cod: 16 hours.
The highlight: The Little Dude's, of course. My first pH* cheesesteak!
The lowlight: When Josephine spilled her Dijon mustard all over David's T-shirt and shorts during our (second) lunch stop. Wait a sec! That's not mustard!!!! Oh dear. Heehee.
First place: At the Provincetown pier, waiting for the Boston ferry to take David on his way home: "Daddy, I'm goin' to miss you! I'm goin' to cwwwwy!! But, but, but, I'm goin' to get a new Daddy."
Second place: Two weeks later... "Mommy, do you 'member my old Daddy?"
Third place: Our first day at the beach! Lulu, do you want to swim? Make castles? Catch fish? "NO! I want to sit right here and just RELAX." (Proof that, despite what we think we know about pregnancy and birth, she's actually Cynthia's child. Now, how did that HAPPEN??)
Runner-up: Our second day at the beach, this time at low tide, faced with Cape Cod Bay's miles-wide sand flats, she shouts, "Who pulled the plug??" (And, I swear, I did not just read this in a Family Circus cartoon.)
Okay, here's what Lucy liked to do at Cape Cod:
1) She didn't really like the beach. Gasp. My fault maybe? On one of our first days there, I let another Daddy give us a spider crab for our bucket. Scritch, scritch, scritch! Too scary, even for me. And she didn't like the snails. She did like to catch and release minnows in the tidal pools. (Our record: Thirty-six!!**) She would pinch each one gently between her thumb and index finger and say, "Bye-bye, little fishies! Swim home to your mommies!" Mostly she preferred the kettle ponds, where we would sit in the water and make soup. "It needs pepper!" she would shout, and add a pinch of sand.
2) The outdoor shower. Where are we going to put one of these? She took a shower with every member of our family, except her cousin William. How did he escape? She likes to stand under the spray, bent at the waist, arms flung back like Supergirl, and let the water stream across her back. "Move over, Mommy!" Some days she took two showers. "But I'm dirty!"
3) Hang out with her auntie and cousins. They're such good cousins! They pushed her in the swing, waved sprinklers in the air for her, and even laid down in bed with her.
And how were the babies, you ask? Sweet. And spoiled rotten! Maybe it was the luxury of observation, but they seem to be growing into real people. Margaret has a big, goofy grin and chortle. (My niece Mollie says she's the Jenna twin.) But don't be fooled. My mother was giving her a bath when she accidentally turned on the shower. Oh, the hollering! Holler, holler, bellow! And without tears! It lasted long beyond any reasonable time, until, apparently, she felt my mother had been appropriately punished. Margaret has a temper.
Josephine is a much sweeter-tempered baby. Her smiles are quicker, more transformative. She cries like a bird and complains when she gets tired -- mostly to my father, who, after 20 years in the bar business, has a very sympathetic ear. She's also a good listener. Both girls roll around -- but, while Margaret makes it impossible to change her diaper, Josephine will lay nicely and smile up at you. While Margaret yells, "Amuse me!" Josephine says, "Oh, hello!" And, while Margaret makes me laugh, Josephine makes me smile. (Margaret liked the beach. She sat in the tidal pool and happily kicked her feet. Josephine fretted until her grandmother rescued her.)
Scariest moment on our trip: Why do I ever think it's a good idea to go canoeing? David and I went out on a National Seashore trip across Pilgrim Lake in Truro, which the feds have renamed East Harbor. It was very interesting. We paddled quite nicely to one side, then got out and scaled a dune. Saw coyote poop and wild cranberry bogs. But then, on the way back, the wind kicked up and there were actually white caps on the water. We floundered. We were forced back to shore. Sideways. Indeed, we were so incompetent that we had to be separated by the ranger. Oh, the shame... But shouldn't we know better? Wasn't it just a few years ago that we almost died in the 10,000 Islands?? Don't I remember saying to myself, "We have half a raisin-nut fiselle and a single plum. I'm going to have to eat my husband."
Funnniest moment: As I've written before, Lucy is very interested in gorillas. Sometimes they're funny, as in, the gorilla is going to bite your tushie!! Sometimes they're scary, as in, oh nooooo, there's a gorilla in there, sob, sob. Anyway, David and Lucy were in the portable potty at the beach and I was hanging around outside....Bang! Bang! "Who's there?" giggles Lucy. "The gorilla!" I shout. Silence. "I'm hungry!! I need some poop!!!" Silence. "GO AWAY, GORILLA! This place is for little girls! This not for gorillas!" Bang! Bang! "Hoo! Hoo! But I'm hungry! I need some poop!!" "NO! NO GORILLAS!" A minute later, Lucy ran out, "Mommy, where is the gorillla? Did you see the gorilla? He was talking to me!!"
(I really want to know: Is this good parenting? Does it foster imaginative play? Or does it make for crazy children...)
The three best you'll-never-see-on-a-postcard images:
1) I'm standing in a tidal pool, about a quarter-mile from shore with Lucy on my hip -- "No crabbies, Mommy!!!" -- when David shouts and points between my knees. It's a razorback clam! In 30-plus years on Cape Cod Bay, I have never seen a swimming clam. Wow. Weird. They move like arthritic eels.
2) Driving home from an ice cream run with my father and Lu, I had to brake when we saw a coyote trot across the road!! It looked like the blond child of a fox and a wolf. Of course, I immediately reconsidered my bright idea of babies on blankets in backyards. Also looked twice at a missing cat poster at the end of our street. My father tells me that one tried to snatch a 3-year-old boy in Sandwich.
3) And finally -- The Provincetown transsexual who waited with Lucy and me for the high-speed ferry from Boston, which delivered both Auntie Pamela and a very special guy named Peter. She had long blond hair, hot pink fingernails and a huge U.S. Marine Corps tattoo on her bulging bicep -- "For God, for Country, for USMC." She said she liked our matching yellow Crocs, but I think SHE was making fun of US!
TIE for first place: Fried eggplant and Ma's sauce (which, over the years, I must say, has possibly gotten better than Nan's sauce. Can that be true?? Can I say it??) And... Fresh, raw Wellfleet oysters at Mac's Shack, which just opened this summer in the place with the giant fisherman on its roof. All the better because there were NO CHILDREN and I had TWO big ruby red mojitos. With that, I think I'll start drinking again.
Second place: The formerly neglected ice cream flavor Sweet Cream 'n Nuts, topped with hot fudge and REAL whipped cream. (I journey'd thru childhood flavors this past month. Tasted half-a-dozen. Gained two pounds. Maple walnut is just as good as I remember. But peppermint stick? Disgusting!)
Third place: Lobster roll at the Friendly Fisherman. Or maybe Sir Cricket's clam chowder. Yum, yummy, and conveniently located next to the fish market, where I encouraged a captive 5-lb'er** to wave its angry claws at us. (BTW, this is between you and me. Tell the PETA people and I will wrap YOUR arms with blue rubber bands! I mean it!!) Quick quiz: What does a good mother do when her 2-year-old screams in horror at a lobster? Giggle? Reassure her, "It's okay! It's okay!" Or leave like a tree?
Honorable mentions: My sister made a mean mango and avocado salsa. And my niece and I conspired to turn an abundance of garden zucchini into really cool stuffies w/ricotta. Oh, and Arturo's is back, baby! After a 3-year hiatus, they're baking sheet pizzas again, just like school field-trip pizza, but better.***
BOOKS READ: 8
BEST FICTION: On Chesil Beach. Mostly, I think Ian McEwan is boring and, if that makes me silly, so be it. But this was beautiful. Sad. Sometimes funny: "There were rumours that in the English department... men and women in tight black jeans and black polo-neck sweaters had constant easy sex, without having to meet each others' parents."
Totally over-rated: The Emperor's Children.
BEST NON-FICTION: The posthumous Marjorie Williams collection is great journalism. Her Vanity Fair profile of Vernon Jordan was fabulous. I could hear his voice, "Marjorie, you're not done with me yet?" Also, I like the way she used regular words in interesting ways. Like calling a good story "yeasty." And frankly, her death haunts me. Here she is, not even 40 and jogging thru Takoma Park, with a great job and two small children, and she discovers a lump in her stomach -- and then her doctor tells her it's poop!! And so she ignores it! Good grief.
Runner-up: I still say Obama is too inexperienced to be my president, but he's a fine writer. And a hottie! The mayor of Hottieville, says a good friend of mine who shall remain nameless for her sake. You all know I'm voting for John Edwards. (Chris Dodd! You never wrote back to me! You are off the list!)
Absolutely the WORST BOOK ever read: Crappy Detective Book by Ret. Lieut. Misogynist. There were four women in the book. The first was the victim, of course. She goes missing and turns up with -- swallow your drink -- her nipples bitten off. The second is the detective's wife. She's taken hostage and must be rescued by her husband. The third is the detective's partner's wife. Her fate is the same as the first. Finally, the fourth is a beautiful IRA operative who blows herself to pieces when she tarries over sex. I was fueled by outrage to the final page!!
What else? We made it back, obviously. After 11 hours in the car with us, Auntie Pamela has decided never to have sex again. She has, however, decided to invest all her money in NJ Turnpike rest stops...
* My new slogan for America's first capital city! (Isn't it?) WHERE THE pH IS PERFECT. Has anybody thought of it before? Hm. Perhaps it's a little obvious. Still, it's way better than Connecticut's: FULL OF SURPRISES. Sometimes surprises are not good! Haven't these people ever changed a diaper??
** The secret to catching minnows: Don't go splashing after them like a nutball. Bury your net in the sand instead and let them come to you!!
*** If you want an aroused lobster, stroke its antenna.
**** This pizza has no mozz and it's the same kind of pizza that my grandmother made -- just really good tomato sauce and a sprinkling of parmesan. It's also available at Italian bakeries in Hartford. But my half-Sicilian, all-NY husband says it's new to him. Is it a regional thing??