My niece joined the family on July 12th, 2010. This special young lady's mother is my younger sister, which in classic Chinese culture makes me her Jiu Jiu (舅舅) -- thus the title of this blog. Here I intend to semi-regularly post reflections, thoughts, stories, and assorted whathaveyous pertaining to our trip to China, adoption in general, and (mostly) watching my niece grow up. Since the web is a very public place, I will attempt to maintain my family's privacy while telling the story... but I invite you to follow the blog and come along for the adventure!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Catching Up: A Pleasant but Sorta Fizzly Fourth

In the interest of (hopefully) catching up on all the stuff I never got to post about that I wanted to post about even though it's passed, I'm using this post to catch up on this year's Independence Day celebration. (Dude, you waited until 2/3 of the way through August to talk about the first week of July...?!?)

As usual, the day started with the annual Independence Day parade in Mom & Dad's neighborhood. I managed to get tot he staging area at a local elementary school early enough to say "hi" to a few folks and enjoy watching the organizers perform their annual feat of cat herding to build something approximating an actual parade.  I hung out with AJ & Miri while our folks helped sign in participants & untangle participants from watchers from crew.  I tried to get some good shots of the local volunteer fire department's shiny truck & ambo but somehow none of the photos looked as good to my real eyes as they did in my mind's eye... Oh, well, I was really there to get shots of my niece parading patriotically with her mommy.

I kept bumping into one friend (herself the youngest daughter of a friend I've known since 8th grade) with her next generation in tow, and her daughter has always liked Miri so we all ended up marching sauntering along together in the parade. Along the way, I stepped out of the flow of decorated bikes, wagons, baby carriages etc. to say "hi" to my friend, who was waiting on a nearby street corner to get photos of her daughter & grandkids as they paraded past. With the exception of one idiot in a mid-size sedan who drove past the police escort and bulled his way through the parade (luckily missing everybody, thanks in part to the number of angry parents & other paraders yelling for those farther ahead on the route to get out of the way), the parade was a success, with Miri riding her bike all the way from the starting line in the school parking lot to the neighborhood pool's parking lot. (There were a couple of complaints about the heat, and the occasional extra push from Mommy or Uncle Brian on particularly steep grades, but the Pipsqueak done darn good!)

Unlike the last couple of years, AJ remembered to bring Miri's swimsuit along so the Pipsqueak happily joined our friend's brood (and a few other neighborhood kids) in the wading pool. Since she'd already begun taking swimming lessons, Miri happily splashed and splooshed and got her face down into the water (something she was never happy about doing in the past), and a grand time was generally had by all. (Yours Truly was happy to just sit and watch... I even borrowed some of Miri's spray-on sunscreen, although later redness proved I missed a few key spots.)


Our friend's son decided his stuffed monkey -- the one he sleeps with at night, of course -- also wanted to go swimming, so while she kept an eye on the not-so-small herd of splashing kids I alternately wrung Monkey out, pressed him flat, and left him laying in the sun to dry. (Turns out I done good; precious, fragile Monkey only had to spend a few minutes in the clothes dryer that evening to be able to help his young owner sleep soundly.)  Another old family friend we've known since she & AJ were in class in elementary school together(!) came by with her son and everyone started reminiscing about old times while the kids ruckused in the pool. (Dude, is that a real word?)


AJ finally convinced Miri that being all wrinkly and shivering was a sign that it was time to get out of the pool. They headed off to watch the water balloon toss (and promptly returned once the Pipsqueak realized she wouldn't be allowed to play with the water balloons), and then we all headed home for lunch.  Miri insisted on "helping" Mommy prepare lunch, and I caught myself comparing the sight of my niece helping wash & spin a salad to the memory of a quiet, scrawny pre-toddler in her high chair stuffing peas or pieces of scrambled egg into her mouth while signing "more" any time she thought there wouldn't be any more. After finishing lunch and (almost) catching our collective breath, we loaded up a cooler with the makings of a picnic dinner, picked up AJ's former classmate & her son, and headed en masse for the UMCP campus for the annual July 4th fireworks.

Once we'd finished laying claim to a coupla dozen square feet of college real estate, we spent some time dancing to the live band, walked around crowd-watching a bit, and settled in for a quiet wait. We all realized we hadn't eaten dinner just a few minutes before the fireworks were supposed to begin. There was a bit of a mad scramble to get sandwiches made before we lost all daylight (and the fireworks began), and we didn't quite get the job done before the first shells were launched, but I can vouch for the fact that none of us went home hungry.

The fireworks show (hosted by the City of College Park, not U-MD) was, as usual, good. There were some shells we hadn't seen before, some with extra-bright colors, some creating new patterns, and some... Hey, waitaminit, didn't that one go off a little low? Anyway, there were batches of little golden shells and bursts of big red & blue shells and... Whoa, that one went off a LOT low... and huge chrysanthemum bursts and... Yikes, look out for the falling embers!


As you may have surmised, something just didn't seem right with the fireworks this year. With increasing frequency, we could see big starburst or chrysanthemum shells bursting long before they reached altitude, sometimes even going off before actually being launched. (After one particularly spectacular ground burst, a professional photographer who'd set up next to where I was standing asked, "Was that supposed to happen?" and as I replied, "I don't think so!" a second massive chrysanthemum shell blew up while still in its launch tube.)


The show continued, with lots of oohs and aahs accompanied by a slowly-increasing number of whoas, until... Well, it just stopped. No warning, no finale, no big finish -- just a couple of big shells going off right at ground level followed by dead silence. There was a quiet rumble of conversation as the crowd began wondering aloud what had happened and then all of a sudden all the parking lot lights were turned back on, a clear statement of "That's all, folks!" (We found out the next day that the show had been stopped because the shooters decided there were too many ground-level misfires to continue safely.)

We spent a little while engaging in a live-action game of "Frogger" in the sudden massive exodus from the parking lot as we shuttled our coolers, folding chairs, etc. from our spot back to where AJ had parked, then sat a while waiting for the traffic jam to ease. Eventually we made our way back to our folks' house, from where everyone dispersed to their respective houses for some much-needed sleep. As I said goodnight to Miri, she said she was sad there was no big finale but that she enjoyed the fireworks, and that our seeing them together made them special.

Fizzle or no fizzle, that was the real reason for the day, so we're all calling it a success (and one for the record books).

No comments:

Post a Comment