14 July, 2009

lazy (so not!) days of summer












This morning dawned bright and fair and with the promise of MANY tasks undone: before I could blink I had scaled the lovely plants left for us by Rollie's wife Judy, had jumped into the car with Avery and gone to the bakery for doughnuts for the upcoming Three-Girl Camp, thence to the Town Hall to pay our vehicle tax, thence to the New Town Hall to get our Southbury Community Pool Summer Pass, the laminated possession of which always spells Real Summer to me. Thence to Starchak's Farm Stand for Avery's summer favorite, black plums, and red peppers, peaches, white onions, local blueberries. Thence to the supermarket for everything else needed for a camp like sausages, melons, pasta, milk, you name it. The Gap happened to be next door, so Avery's summer wardrobe was accomplished in about ten minutes in a humongous sale. She's in that funny space between the oldest Gap Kids size and the smallest Ladies' Gap, but we managed to find plenty of bits and pieces to kit her out for the foreseeable growth spurt.

Home to kiss John good luck for his massive dentist appointment, to drop off all our purchases, I fried a quick egg to get me through the next two hours in a car, and off we were to Greenwich, to find Avery' camp-mates Anna and Ellie! A lightning-fast kiss for their mom Becky and sister Ashley who is, in her inimitably elegant teenage way, off for a trip to Guatemala tomorrow... such drama! I could happily kiss Becky every day of the week, and used to in the old, golden days in London, so once a Monday worked for me. Packed the girls up, and off back home.

A sandwich for lunch, a trip to the local bookstore for magazines for the pool, and we thought we were off there when up popped John, in Quincy! Who, dare you ask, is Quincy? Our 1967 Land Rover, of course, who regularly starts up with more reliability than our 1999 VW station wagon, but there you go. John home from the dentist early and with a burning desire to play tennis. So off we went, to drop the girls at the pool with their hot new summer pass, and we to play at the adjacent courts (lovely to hear "Avery" occasionally drift across the intervening pine-scented lawn). We played until clouds made the air entirely too cold for three urban chicks to tolerate, so up they came to the courts for snack money and to sit out the cloud cover in the car. "Isn't anybody going to swim with me?" I wailed after our tennis game (much improved by several new trys at rackets, so hard to decide). I got Avery and Ellie, and Anna went home with John to get an early start on their trampoline routine.

A quick stop at the pool, then, to dive and swim and remember, as I do each summer, how the green of the pine trees against the blue of the sky reminds me of our old summers in Maine... why is that? A subliminal connection, so powerful and sweet, of old summer times in a faraway island.

Home via the supermarket where I had to supplement my earlier trip with the requested rigatoni for my vodka sauce! The perfect recipe for several starving girls.

Rigatoni alla Vodka
(serves six with leftovers)


1 lb dried rigatoni
2 tbsps olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 white onion, minced
generous splash vodka
2 tbsps Italian seasoning
1 large (larger than soup-size) can whole Italian plum tomatoes
1/2 cup light cream

Boil the pasta. In the meantime, saute the garlic and onions in the olive oil. When soft, add the vodka and cook high for two minutes. Add the Italian seasoning and mix well. If you like smooth sauce, puree the tomatoes in your food processor and add to the garlic mixture and cook till warmed through. If you like chunky sauce, add the tomatoes plain to the garlic mix and stir often over a medium heat till heated through.

When pasta is cooked through (10 minutes-ish), drain well and coat with sauce. Serve with grated pecorino or parmesan cheese.

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This is so simple, so inexpensive and so lovely that you'll forget how much you love it till your child begs on bended knee.

Tomorrow will depend upon the weather. Quassy Amusement Park if the fates smile well on the girls (and a bit cruelly on me? to be honest?) or an afternoon at home with the trampoline and the library of books, if it rains?

But mostly it has been such heaven to have three of our favorite girls (granted, one of them I gave birth to) with us, when we know that separation is in the offing, as they move entirely too far away. Anna and Ellie have been there for years for all my cooking, all Avery's parties, all John's silly jokes, countless rides in our now-gone convertible in London, endless rides on numberless ponies (with emergency shared gear, no doubt) and their mother Becky my constant companion for all of the above plus mindless grocery shopping, coffee drinking, errand running loveliness. Their presence and their charm marks out one of the most graceful periods in my whole life: our early time in London when a lonely newcomer (me) was picked up by a gracious, sophisticated world traveler (Becky) and we spent three happy years together just enjoying it all, watching our girls grow up through one of the most intensely changeling-ish periods (how long is a piece of string?), with each other's always empathetic company to share the moments. Thank you, Becky, for all of that, and for the loan of your sweet girls this week.

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