Summertime Adventures And Going Home Again

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It’s been a strange summer, full of the sort of things that are done before you know they’ve started, as well as the hurry-up-and-wait type of scenarios. My grandmother pulled through her last health scare, but now she is totally bed-bound. She continues to perservere, however, and is generally cheery and good-natured about it all.  She’ll hang out until she’s ready to leave. I think we are all prepared, as much as one can be…so we are just going to enjoy her until she departs for her next Big Thing.

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soapwoman

Image credit: muttermuseum.org

hyrtlskulls

Image credit: muttermuseum.org

I took a whirlwind trip to Philadelphia to visit my darling Best Good Friend, who has been spending a great deal of time up there for work-related purposes. Unfortunately I did not get a lot of photos, but maybe that’s a good thing: enjoying time with a loved one without the constant compulsion and distraction of documenting everything.

It was a lovely, relaxing time of shopping and food and shopping and food and catching up–which I think is exactly what we needed. We visited the Reading Terminal Market and walked from there to the Mütter Museum (where they don’t allow photography anyway) and saw the soap lady and the Hyrtl Skull Collection, among other things. We were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Grimms’ Anatomy: Magic and Medicine, a special exhibit in honor of the two-hundredth anniversary of the publication of The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, and which shows real-world examples of gruesome and grotesque fairy-tale bodies. Fascinating!

Of course we could not leave without a trip through the gift shop for all sorts of macabre goodies–the main goal of course was to snag a few bottles of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s “Umlaut“, which was created exclusively for the Mütter Museum. It’s a resinous, musky vanilla that BGF observes smells like a feminist bookstore, probably this one. Which is to say we think it smells pretty amazing.

We also stayed in and ate nearly an entire bag of Herr’s Jalapeno Poppers one night, which, if you don’t know, Herr’s Jalapeno Poppers are basically the best junk food ever.

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Speaking of junkfood, in July my sisters and our significant others met up for a trip that’s been a long time in the planning–a visit to our hometown in Milford Ohio, as well as a stop to see our baby sister’s new home in Indiana and visit with some other family in the area. It has been 30+ years since we moved from Ohio to Florida and I had never been back. I wasn’t quite ten years old when I left, so I was prepared to recognize absolutely nothing, as kids don’t really pay attention to much in the way of driving routes at that age.

After arriving at the airport and being picked up by my brother in law and my other traveling sister, we drove straight to Milford, stopping at a Skyline Chili to stuff cheese coneys in our faces. (I remember after having moved down to Florida and seeing chili dogs on the menu, my excitement rapidly turning to sadness–instead of the monstrous piles of shredded cheese that I was longing for…it was…squirty cheese! I had never been so offended in my young life.) The cheese coneys I had last month tasted exactly like I remembered them–cheesy and oniony, and the weird taste of the Cincinnati chili— and they were totally worth the issues they caused in my now 40 year old guts. NO REGRETS.

In driving to the house where I lived until I was 10 years old, a funny thing happened. The closer we got to it, the more I recognized little landmarks and certain traffic lights…the same used car lot with the funny multicolored triangle flags was still nested in the corner where we made the left-hand turn on our street, for example. It was so surreal. Stranger too, to see a car pull up in our old driveway as we walked toward the house. Two rambunctious young men exited the car and entered the house, so that was that as far as our pressing our faces against the windows to see inside. The driveway was so small!  I recall all the worms that would wriggle across its surface after a rainstorm in the spring…it seemed so immense at the time…

Afterwards we drove by our grandparent’s old place. It’s at the very end of the lane and it looks like developers have still not touched the woods beyond, which made me inordinately happy. It is still very much as I remember it, save for all of the junk in the front yard. Tools and toys and clothing and lawn chairs…it looked as if they might have been having a garage sale. Except…I don’t think they were selling anything. It was kind of weird, actually.

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We spent a good portion of the trip in Bloomington, at my uncle’s beautiful home, far out in the country. Like, far, faaaaar out in the country. The driveway was maybe a quarter mile long and I honestly did not even know where the next neighbor was. The back yard, such as it was, had been turned into a bit of a butterfly and hummingbird garden, and beyond that there was what looked to be miles and miles of wooded area. It was a little eerie at night, imagining the house lit up in the darkness, and someone in the trees watching us intently.

In between visiting folks and dining and chatting, I knit on a sock and I finished reading Kindred by Octavia Butler.I cannot believe it’s taken me this long to read any of her stories, but now I want to devour all of them

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We then: visited a cemetery beautiful old cemetery down the road // met up with our cousins for dinner at Bru Burger Bar in Indianapolis, where we waited two hours to be seated // got a driving tour and history from my baby sister of the beautiful homes of Broadripple // visited downtown Indianapolis // ate all the french fries and all the dipping sauce at Brugge // visited Half Price Books and found the art of Marci Washington for $8

That was a lot of stuff to do in the three days that we were there! And I have promised I will be back in fall of 2017 to do all of the Autumn Things with my sister, as for the past ten years she had been living in California, and had previously spent most of her life in Florida, and so she is going nuts at the prospect of fall activities. I can’t wait.

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