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2008-07-06 - 9:15 a.m.

...4th of July, ancestral homes, and rice cereal...

HAPPY 4th of JULY:
Originally I had plans to meet up with Micha to go for a walk. Remember Micha? She had her baby back in February? I've seen her three times since then, although I've made several attempts. She likes to cancel, and it happened again. She had forgotten a different appointment.

So anyway, at about 1 o'clock in the afternoon on the 4th, I went into K's office and suggested that we check out wait times at the border to fix his I94 situation...It was grey and nothing weather, he had a headache and wasn't getting any work done, and so we decided to go South.

And so we strapped Susi into her new car seat and off we went. This trip became eventful for it's lack of events. There was no wait time at the border. No hassles. Efficiency. We've found a US/Canadian border crossing with post 9/11 rules and pre 9/11 friendliness.

We crossed the border and K felt that the weight had lifted. So we went to THE MALL. Which was nearly closed, actually. We walked through, enjoyed the vast emptiness of shops closing up, and went off to a R3d R0bin restaurant. We were seated by a girl with braces who looked about 15 years old. No matter, because she and everyone else were so friendly. Friendly was the theme of the day. You would think that people who had to work on a major national holiday might be a tad bit grumpy. Not so. Everyone was helpful. Everyone was happy, and carefree.

We left the mall free of consumer purchases, and went looking for a beach that we never found. Instead we found all the places we had happened upon accidentally during previous trips. A historic area of Bellingham. The Amtrak station. A coffee shop we'd wanted to check out before. And the coffee hut next to the gas station where we'd happened to stop the last time we wandered through Bellingham. We were having a great time, doing a good ol' fashioned road trip.

And then we wandered north to Birch Bay, and then to Blaine. My father grew up in Blaine, and my ancestral family's dairy farm lies somewhere in that beautiful country that rests between water and mountains. My dad used to tell me stories about Sunday afternoons in the 1940s, when the Canadians would drive south through the Peace Arch in their loud cars. Putters. That's what he and his brother called all Canadians. Male Canadians were collectively known as Jake Putter. Female Canadians were all called Gorm Putter. Jake and Gorm Putter were the stereotypical grandparent-age Canadian family who drove south in their cars that went put-put-put, filling the roads, and picking the apples.

As far as I knew, that farm could have been developed into an industrial park. But I couldn't help wondering if I was getting close to the spot when we drove past a small mennonite church sandwiched between a huge state park and a gigantic plot of land now owned by British Petroleum. I've since done a little online research, and found the death notice of my great-grandmother, Liesl, and the history of a small mennonite church in Blaine. I know of Liesl because I once found a translation of a history that she wrote online, and I remember a picture of a farmhouse where she grew up - a picture that my father took when he visited her grave in the 80s. I have know idea where that picture is now, and I'm fairly certain that the farmhouse is long gone.

This mennonite church the only one of its kind in the area, started by three families who moved there in 1937. One of them was mine. The current pastor has the same last name as one of those found on my family tree, and I'm guessing that if I were to speak with him, I would discover that we are related. I'm also guessing that the land is either owned by BP or has been developed by into million-dollar homes on the water. Either feels like a very strange fate for mennonite lands, given their tradition of isolation from worldly goods and development.

Dad used to tell me stories about the dairy farm and the Peace Arch, and all of the practical jokes he used to play as a boy. In fact, in one of the stories he was actually ex-communicated from the church for using dynamite to blow up a huge sign that was installed in the nearby state park. We sat in the very same state park - and in fact were modern-day Jake and Gorm Putters driving south from Canada to visit - and watched the sun set over the water with other families. It was an overwhelmingly peaceful way to spend the 4th of July. It was extremely beautiful, so much so that we want to go back. I can't help feeling that there is a certain poetry in bringing Liesl's great-great granddaughter back to this spot, without actually knowing it.

And speaking of the great-great granddaughter...

Susi started solids on July 3rd, 10 days shy of the 6 month landmark. Exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months is supposed reduce the chance of allergies, but we couldn't quite make it that long. Susi has been staring at our spoons and cups as we eat, and her exclusive consumption of Mommy Product was driving me into the ground. Ugh, am I tired! So I hauled out the rice cereal last week - and she LOVES it. We have lots of typical video footage of a happy baby face smeared in rice goo. The baby cup is next.

Susi has also gotten far better at flipping herself over - and her favorite place to do it is in the crib. So I'll be downstairs listening to my child entertaining herself with a variety of Halloween freak show noises (such as creaky door, dying ghost, and AIEEEEEEEAAEIIOOOOO), and then all of a sudden these noises will elevate to extreme desperation. She's rolled over and she can't get up!

Alternatively, her newest game has been to lodge her leg painfully in between the crib slats. Great game. ooo. fun for everyone. Right. So as a countermeasure, I went upstairs and wrapped the crib bumper from Harri3tspy around the inside of the crib. Harri3T!! I now know what crib bumpers are for! Thank you and thank AJ for this useful gift! Of course, we bought a small oval crib for tight spaces..and the crib bumper has the whole alphabet from A to Z(ed) sewn onto it. There's five letters too many in the alphabet for this oval crib so I've had to wrap the bumper around on top of itself, such that A through E are missing. K assured me that this would not scar our child (although secretly I've thought of rewrapping it so that A through E are showing and V through Z are covered, on the principle that letters A through E are used more often and therefore are more important. Hey. Is that coincidence, that they are at the front end of the alphabet? Oh well, nevermind.)

So that's the news, folks. It's time for me to get my behind off this sofa and get some food in me before the babe wakes up again.

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