Friday, July 06, 2018

Say it isn’t so, Gody.

I suspect that the Ament household in Virginia has been filled with the sounds of soccer for the past weeks, and that the five male members of the family have (politely) told Gody it is soccer or nothing!

But since today is Gody’s birthday I hope there is a little pause, tho’ even I intend to join some of the Grosse Pointe family tonight for a little soccer which I recorded. I was going to post a photo of Gody and Al at one of Manny’s Randolph Macon soccer matches, but she deserves to be feted on her own.

This photo is a few years old, but Gody never seems to get any older. What an accomplishment for someone who twenty years ago knew no English to earn a BSN degree. Now she is a well beloved nurse and the mother of a university student, two high school students and an eleven year old, not to mention the wife of a demanding high school teacher. Her friends span the globe, but she has conquered Michigan too. See you soon, Gody, we miss you—and have a wonderful birthday.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

The Day Before the Fourth

That’s July third and the day our first child was born. The story is that I refused to have a baby on the Fourth, but I don’t remember it that way. Fast forward to 2018 and Al is fifty one today. We spoke to him earlier and he had spent the afternoon doing one of the things he likes best—watching soccer. Until he was a teenager, his sport was baseball, but when he sprung up on his way to 6’7”, the high school basketball coach grabbed him for what would be a pretty good team. A college basketball scholarship followed. Four years in Africa introduced him to soccer and that became a passion. His four sons followed his interest in soccer, but now the younger two have decided to play basketball.

So we have him through the ages, from a bemused looking big brother to a new father with Manny in Pisa to a fifty year old in his role as a French teacher in Virginia.

I almost didn’t get this post up. Looking through old photos held my attention for way too long. I’m scared to look in the mirror: I guess I grew old along with him and his siblings.

Happy Birthday, Al.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

It’s Sebastian’s Turn

Today my grandson Sebastian is eleven. As his mother pointed out, as the third of three sons Sebastian has never had a bike that wasn’t a hand-me-down. That changed today and it looks like a pretty nice machine. Today was also his last day of school, so he’ll have some free time to scoot around the neighborhood—when he’s not at swim practice, because he is also the third of three swimming brothers.

I trust there will be some more photos of Sebastian with a cake, or celebrating with his family, but I choose to salute him as a boy with a new bike.

Happy birthday, Sebastian.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Lucy in Real Time

I’m caught up with forgotten birthdays just in time to observe a birthday which falls today.

Happy Birthday, Lucy. I took this photo at her daughter's second birthday. She looks pretty chipper for someone who also has a month old baby and a son five months short of three. After living for a while in France and working for a decade in Washington she came home and ended up living five miles away from where she grew up. She has never been happier. It took her earlier adventures to help her realize where she really belonged, and the children and Peter and Blake were what she had been looking for all along.

We’ll celebrate with a combined Memorial Day/visit from a favorite cousin/birthday party. The photo above is the “everyday” Lucy, who cooks, cleans, gardens and effortlessly visits the grocery store with three kids in a cart. Then there is the artistic Lucy, who tackles creative challenges, writes and graces the stage. We love them both.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Sorry, Gigi; Sorry, Frederick

I was doing pretty well at the “post about family birth days on the day” resolution, but as with so many things I messed up once which gave me, with my twisted logic, good reason to mess up a second time. If there were a bunch of birthdays in early May I would have continued my sloppy ways, but I have a little time to make amends before I have to write about the Royal Wedding. Or at least about Marmite.

The first birthday I missed was little Gladys Grace who turned two on April 25. I suspect I was thinking ahead to the party on the 28th. In the end, she got left out altogether. She didn’t eat all this cake, but she looks like she is doing her best. She’s a great kid, but some how I couldn’t imagine her as a bridesmaid at a Royal Wedding (see the theme here, in case I don’t get round to that auspicious occasion?). If it ever gets sunny here, she and I are going to have fun in the splash pad.

The serious side of Frederick

Then there is Frederick, who became fourteen on April 30. I have countless photos of him kicking a soccer ball, and now he has switched to basketball and the photos of him and his team winning tournaments are adding up. But I love this photo of him on his Confirmation, taken just a few weeks ago. Gigi is too young to realize she got left out of the birthday roster, while you, Frederick are old enough to realize, and hopefully to understand.

Love you both.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

This Year you Have to Share, Veronica

Veronica (l) with big sister Josephine
Today Veronica is seven. This little girl, born sixteen weeks early, weighing 1 lb. 4 oz. is celebrating another year in her dramatic life. It isn’t just that she has grown and thrived, it is that she has turned out to be such a funny, captivating little girl. I could’t find a good photo of her, because all the recent ones I have show her laughing and kidding around, happy to be around her siblings and cousins and enjoying life.  She visited us with one of her sisters in January, and I actually caught her sitting down. Love you, Veronica.

But this year, as she celebrates her birthday, her brother Theodore is celebrating his Confirmation, so there is much excitement in their house tonight. I wish I could be in Maryland tonight with you all. We are thinking of you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Good Work

I am dividing up my books into five categories:

  • those I really treasure
  • those which are too dilapidated or unworthy to give away
  • those which I will give to special people
  • those which I will donate to the library
  • ones I don’t know what to do with*

 I am hanging on to the first category and pitching the second. The library is getting a number of unused cookbooks, books on quilting (never quite got the hang of that), fifty years worth of gifts, novels and all the books you buy but are really only good for one read. It’s amounting to quite a lot. I don’t want to do it, but it is time. An advantage of having grandchildren grow older is that I know their interests. So last week I could give Ben a book on Shackleton and the Endurance. A few weeks ago I gave Patrick a book that looked like this:

It is one of several similar editions I lugged across the Atlantic and kept with pride. Or nostalgia? An end of year school prize which was awarded to two or three pupils in each class. If you were going to receive a prize on Speech Day, you were notified in advance so you could chose a book you wanted and it could be bound in blue leather and embossed with the school crest and its motto “Onward Ever.” I forgot to photograph the volume of “Nicholas Nickelby” I gave to Patrick, so I photographed the one I received the following year, “The Pilgrim's Progress.” (So impressed was I to be receiving an award that it never occurred to me I was supposed to read it. Never did manage PP.)

The bookplate inside looked just like this,  signed by the Head Mistress and annotated “Good Work”, but the form was IIL not IIIL. I was dreading how to answer if Patrick asked about the form designation.

Let me explain: after passing the 11+, we went on to Enfield County Grammar School where we were at the mercy of a streaming system. So for the first form we were democratically known as I A, I Alpha and (I think) I B. The cream began to rise to the top and at the end of the first form about a third of us were told we could learn Latin (shades of Winston Churchill.) Hence II L, leaving behind II A and II B. At the end of the second form, the two latter classes were divided into III S (Spanish) and III DS (Domestic Science.) One of my best friends was ignominiously put into III DS, and realizing quite correctly that she was destined for more than cooking cauliflower cheese, she went on later to the Open University and earned a degree.  So on to the end of the fifth form, when V L was split into VI B Arts and VI B Science, and passed on the following year to VI A Arts and VI A Science (the creme da la creme destined for university and teacher training college). And those poor souls who made it to V S and V DS has the chance to enter VI B Secretarial.

I was dreading explaining all this to Patrick, but he didn't ask. I always used to justify this dreadful way of damning all but the brightest to a self-defeating streaming system by claiming it was part of a plan to make up quickly and efficiently for all the educated men and women lost in the war. It was, I believe, the result of the Education Act of 1944. Children were ruthlessly streamed. We paid a nominal sum for milk and the infamous “school dinner.” The blessing for me was that my university fees were paid, so I suppose it was good legislation, but these days I feel a little awkward explaining it. I do feel guilty, but at least I had a great education.

* As for the books in this category, the ones with gripping titles like From the Gracchae to Nero and The Latin Subjunctive, they will join the much greater collection owned by this houses librarian, and a decision will be made at a later date.