Dear Shaina,

We didn’t even put you on the plane this time. We just kissed you goodbye in the hotel in DC, paid the bill and got in the car to make our way back to Birmingham after a packed few days with Israeli cousins who were on the last leg of their US tour.

The most challenging “travel arrangement” I was responsible for before your departure was finding a time that both of us were available for your traditional “clean up your toes before you go” pedicure—a treat for me, a necessity for you. Running does not enhance the condition of your toes, for sure!

People ask me where you are this summer. At this point, no one knows where to expect you to be; they just expect you to be somewhere. I find myself responding “Israel” as if you had just left for a weekend at the beach. I think I am getting better—no concern, no worry, no anxiety—despite the fact that you hadn’t quite nailed down living arrangements, you weren’t exactly sure how your work projects would pan out and you were on your own schlepping 50-plus pounds of luggage to the airport!

I had full confidence that you would work it all out on your own, as you always have. Maybe I am finally getting this parental separation thing worked out…or just giving up on the notion of having any control over my 27-year-old, near-adult daughter. I think you should at least acknowledge my progress.

The full force of summer in Birmingham has hit: hot, heavy and humid. Dad is trying to time the watering process to take full advantage of the unpredictable bursts of rain in between the scorching drought. The weather reports have been even more unreliable than usual. I am taking advantage of the summer veggies and have prepared and eaten enough tomato-and-cucumber salads to qualify me for Israeli citizenship. The herbs are flourishing, and I am experimenting with them in everything. Even Dad is loving my kale smoothies every morning.

A bluebird has decided to take up residence in the little birdhouse in our front yard. She has hatched a noisy little bunch of chirping baby bluebirds. After it cools down a bit in the evening, we sit out on the front deck waiting for the mama bird to come by with a worm or two for the babies. They start chirping like crazy, and you can see a hint of their teeny beaks reaching up for their treat. Dad is planning on hanging more birdhouses in hopes of encouraging them to use our yard for an annual family reunion. So much for our summer entertainment…

Your trip will be over in “a minute.” I look forward, as always, to hearing your stories in person and, of course, sharing another visit to the pedicure place.