On our return to Arlington, I moved into my own apartment, about a 5 minute walk from Kiera & James’ place, a 10 minute walk to the metro stop and a 15 minute walk to the nearest supermarket. Despite being so close, it was quite exhausting walking anywhere because it was so bloody hot and humid (with temperatures going up as high as 35ºC). I tried not to let that put me off and did spend some time venturing out and about in Arlington and Washington DC.
I walked to Whole Foods and the Farmers’ Market with my wheelie shopping basket on a few occasions and it was a treat to stock up on lovely summer berries and fruit pies (some of you may know from my previous trip that I cannot resist American pie). We established a habit of Kiera and James stopping by my apartment on their way home from work (they commute on the metro) so that we could walk together to their home. We would eat dinner, watch a show on telly and then they would drive me back. One evening as we were all walking to their apartment Kiera commented on how good it would be if Peter, Alex and I all lived nearby so that we could do this regularly. It brought tears to my eyes then as it does now when I write it. I think that I would give just about anything to have my family close.
On a Friday afternoon I visited the wonderful National Gallery of Art which is located on the National Mall and easily accessible by metro. Strangely enough Andrew Wyeth popped up again as they had an exhibition of his work there called Looking Out, Looking In. I was also delighted to see the original of Monet’s The Artist’s Garden at Vétheuil as we have a print of it hanging next to our fireplace. But my favourite paintings were the Modiglianis, especially Madame Amédée (Woman with Cigarette)and Chaim Soutine.
My feet were killing me after quite a few hours in the Gallery so I strolled next door to the Sculpture Garden where a band was setting up for an evening of Jazz in the Garden. Kiera and James joined me after work and we had prime seats in front of the band (because I had got there early). Kiera bought us a pitcher of sangria and we sat back and imbibed the vibe. It was, in the words of Lou Reed, just a perfect day, we drank sangria in the park, and then later when it got dark, we went home. It may seem strange to those of you accustomed to public transport and walking about at night, but I find being able to catch the metro and walk home in the evening without fear quite awesome!
We visited George Washington’s farm at Mount Vernon on the weekend. The kitchen gardens were gorgeous and I have plans for new plantings when I return home. It is interesting, on the one hand, how unostentatious the house is but, on the other hand, how many outbuildings there are; the kitchen and laundry are separate from the main house, but there are also buildings that accommodated a blacksmith, a spinning room, a distillery and a place to cure meat, making the farm totally self sufficient. This was quite different to anything I’ve visited in the UK, where the stately homes are very grand but dependent on the nearest village for services. Could this be because in America they had slaves to perform all the tasks?
On Sunday, James and Kiera bought buffalo chicken wings, jalapeño poppers and beers and we settled in to watch USA play Portugal. At least James did, Kiera and I abandoned him after a short while to play scrabble – it was nail biting stuff (the scrabble, that is).
Ensconced in my own apartment, I felt very independent and a little guilty for having left Peter at home to deal with a seriously ill employee, my very old Milo-dog and my mum. My mum though has been the least of Peter’s concerns. Kho has not been well since the beginning of the year. Just when we think he’s on the mend, he has a relapse. Not long after I left he became very ill and has been in and out of hospital since. Now it appears that he may have to undergo surgery. I do hope that the doctors at Northdale Hospital know what they are doing.
And Milo is giving him a bit of a run around as well. This is an extract from one of Peter’s emails:
“Milo o Milo – hell bent on giving me sleepless nights. Went off his feed and on Sunday night the squelching of his tummy drowned out the traffic. Last night I was up to him all hours. At one am I took him out and watched him sniff every inch of the lawn, several times, with no result. After 15 minutes – it was freezing – and still no result I invited him back inside and told him to poo away and that I would clean it up and not scold him. Little bugger did just that! From then on he slept through and this morning he ate. You have to admire his ability to manipulate. Anyway, that is all for now .This so called quiet country living is very demanding.”
And all the while I’m having a grand holiday!