This was the scene in our garden yesterday as our son-in-law, Dana Kintigh, dumped a big bucket of ice on his head. It was an especially meaningful contribution to the ALS drive, we all felt, as Dana's first wife died of this disease. He and our daughter Liz were married in March two years ago.
A small tragedy unfolded yesterday, literally at my feet. I was sitting on a bench outside our apartment building when somewhere overhead I heard a resounding bang. A second later, a mourning dove thudded onto the grass two feet in front of me. Lovely gray wings limp, small neat head twisted to the side, eyes closed – obviously it had struck a window in one of the units above.
I was staring at the motionless bird when with a rush of wings a second dove alighted beside it. I sat still, scarcely breathing, as the second bird pressed itself tight against the other and began a frenzied pecking at the ground. Tap, tap, tap with its sharp little beak. Get up! it seemed to be saying. Why don’t you move!
Our "Sixty and Ninety" celebration had a wonderful sequel when John and I continued south to meet our first great-granddaughter. This is Taylor Ann on the Hootens' Christmas card, but...
when we met Taylor in August, she was just 8 weeks.
Our son Donn is exactly 30 years younger than John. Well, almost exactly: John's birthday is August 2, Donn's, August 1. (I tried to hold onto the baby one more day, but babies keep their own calendars.) The two usually celebrate together -- but 2013 was a special milestone.
The "cake" is always watermelon!
Last month John and I were in Garden City, Long Island, for the ordination of our granddaughter Kerlin to the Episcopal priesthood. With us were Kerlin's father and brother,who flew from Nashville to Boston so the four of us could take the train down to New York (no passenger trains where they live.)
"Magnificent" hardly does justice to the splendor of the ceremony at the cathedral. Next day there was a much smaller but equally meaningful service: Kerlin's first Eucharist as priest. Unlike a deacon, her previous status, a priest can consecrate the bread and wine, perform the other sacraments, and pronounce blessing.
Kerlin outside "Bushwick Abbey," on December 8, her first Sunday as priest. The "Abbey" has no permanent home ("The church is the people, not the building," Kerlin reminded us) and its present venue is a radio station. "We want to serve people who might not enter a traditional church building."
Shopping in France, outside the large cities, is an art apart. The unwritten motto of the small-town shopkeeper is, “I won’t sell it,” and of his customer, “I don’t want it.” On our first stay in a country town, years ago, John and I went at it all wrong. We needed stationery, and sure enough, on a shop window on the main street was printed in large letters:
Marchand de Papier
The sign, we soon learned, meant nothing. The fact that a man has set himself up as a paper merchant, acquired a supply of merchandise, and hung out a shingle to that effect, is no indication that this same man is interested in selling paper. On the contrary, he is simply a devoted paper fancier. He has founded his shop the way another man might found a bird sanctuary, as a kind of paper haven where large quantities of it are safe from the consumer.
"What do you want for your 90th birthday?"
John had his answer ready: "A kitchen island!"
I might have known it would be some accessory for his hobby and passion: cooking. (A passion he didn't develop, to my sorrow, until our three children had grown up.) A kitchen island would be extra counter space for slicing, chopping, stirring...
We went shopping and came back rejoicing from Bed, Bath & Beyond with a large box stamped in bold letters: EASY TO ASSEMBLE.
John unpacked the box in the kitchen.
By the time he'd read the 16 pages of directions, it was too late to start dinner. Anyway, there was no room in the kitchen.
We went to nearby Nino's.
We're back in France, where we've had another experience that makes it fun to travel without a plan. As so often, we headed for a particular dot on our road map because we were intrigued by the name: Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises (Colombey-the-Two-Churches.)
The town, when we reached it, looked hardly big enough to support one church, let alone two. But it had a little hotel with flowers in the window boxes. When we'd carried in our bags we got back in the car and went to find the two churches. One Catholic, one Evangelical? we'd wondered.
When I wrote in April about the padlocks on a bridge in Paris, our friend Joan emailed to say she'd noticed the same romantic tradition in Salzburg. So we kept our eyes open and sure enough, we saw these little "Together Forever" tokens in Freiburg . . .
From Heidelberg John and I headed to the Rhine -- and so of course did the Neckar, with its overflow of water. We'd had a notion of driving north along the road that hugs the west side of the Rhine, and did this until the first yellow UMLEITUNG ("Detour") sign sent us up into the woods and vineyards high above: the road ahead was under water.
After a few miles, the detour signs led us back to the river, only to point us uphill again around another flooded stretch of the shore road.
Thinking that the road on the opposite bank might be better, we took a ferry across to Lorch.