Saturday, December 31, 2016

Farewell to 2016

And in several respects—good riddance. But I will not let the year end without mentioning two wonderful events. I already wrote about the birth in April of our twenty second grandchild. Gladys Grace has come to be known as Gigi and when I get my new camera working, there will be many a photo of her and her lovely head of black hair.

In August the entire family got together at Hueston Woods in Ohio to celebrate our fiftieth wedding anniversary. Every child, spouse and grandchild was there. It is possible that although “chunks” of us will be together in the future, there will be the odd one or two missing. Two grandchildren started college this year, in two years there will be three in college and the following year six. Each family had a cabin: there were plenty of activities to keep everyone busy during the day and the children took it in turns to cook dinner at night. On the final Saturday we went to mass in the town of Oxford, Ohio and shared the celebration with a couple who were marking their sixtieth anniversary. There is a photo of us all together, but it is still resting on Lucy’s phone and she can’t download it. Maybe one day, but until then—

Here is oldest child Al with his wife Gody. From left to right, Gody, Al, Ernie, Frederick, me, Manny, Nate and Alex.

Then comes Kate and husband Ron. The same two oldies (but goodies) are in all the photos, but here we have Kate, Ron, Charlie, Eleanor, Patrick and Daniel.

Next in line come daughter Liz and her husband Jeff. There’s Caroline, Lydia, Jeff, Henry (in front), Ben, Liz and Evelyn.

Here’s our younger son is Andrew, who with his wife Marcie is the parent of six of our grandchildren. l-r Veronica, Theodore, Josephine, Andrew, Sebastian, Marcie, Linus and Liesl.

Last, but not least, are Lucy and Peter. Peter is holding Joe, Lucy is holding Gigi and Peter’s daughter Blake is in front.

It was a joyful and fitting way to mark our anniversary. This December Gody’s Italian mother is spending the Christmas season with the family in Virginia. Andrew and his family joined them for Christmas dinner and Patrizia described the event on Facebook as “allegra confusione.” Sounds about right.

So here’s to more allegra confusione in 2017.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Remember These?

I have made headway in my big photo sorting project. I kept lowering the bar, from fantasies of creating albums for all my children or scanning everything to my eventual solution of making reasonably equitable piles, sticking them in brown envelopes and handing them out the the kids when we got together in August (I’ll get round to that before the end of the year.) Finally I found a box of slides. I didn’t want to get rid of them, but since I had not looked at them for fifty years, it seemed silly to mourn their demise.  Some were marked, but I wanted to know what parts of my past were captured in them. I tried putting them up to the light and squinting, but that was to no avail. I know we have a screen in the basement because we show outdoor movies to the grandchildren in the summer and I am pretty sure we have one of those carousel things somewhere. Memories of slide shows with back to front and upside down photos! But I wouldn’t know what to do with them when I identified them all.

I have no idea where I got the camera I used or what happened to it. I do have some photos which I had professionally printed at that period. They are so clear and bring back great memories and I suppose they too were taken on that camera. I obviously had the camera during my three years at the University of London. There are slides marked “Primrose Hill” and "Regent’s Park” as well as some arty views from my residence hall window in Swiss Cottage. The shot of the mail box wreathed in mist is  rather effective, but several titles containing words like “view from so and so in the fog” should probably have been changed to “underexposed.”

The camera went with me to Greece and there are countless views of crumbling temples, most of which I had the sense to label with the name of the site. I remember taking photos at the Corinth Canal, in Crete, at Knossos and Mycene, in Athens and Sparta, in Delphi and Epidaurus. The slides were a great memento, but now they too are part of the past.

The camera also crossed the Atlantic and I have slides of some of the wonderful friends I made in Los Angeles. I could just about make out a slide showing Ernie with a horse, and it made sense when I found others labeled “Will Rogers State Park” and “Polo at Will Rogers.” A number of slides of my oldest children as babies indicate the camera made its way to Michigan, but cheaper, easier and quicker methods of photography must have taken over. So I bid these mementos farewell, BUT . . .

. . . Santa Claus read my blog and guess what I found under the Christmas tree? I love the color.

More technology to wrestle with, but I am excited. Seven years ago I started another blog, with the aim of posting a photo every day. I had to abandon it because of computer problems. I was almost glad, because coming up with a photo every day was so hard, but it might be good for me now and get me out of the house.

Maybe 52at77?

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Day, 2016

Each Christmas that comes now is different. Not better, not worse, just different. I was reading a blog the other day where the writer remarked that she and her husband  “always have a glass of sherry and a mince pie on Christmas Day afternoon.” The idea of “always” seems a little foreign to me now.

No Midnight Mass for us—we would both fall asleep before it even started—but an early Mass this morning, followed by a nice breakfast for two, not the big ham breakfast for the whole family that has been our custom. It was rather pleasant and certainly restful to drink coffee and read the newspaper before putting together the dish I was taking to Christmas dinner. And what a dinner! Peter and Lucy hosted us in their new house which has plenty of room for the Detroit part of the family, and it was wonderful to be in the company of out two youngest grandchildren, who had nine cousins and their big sister to keep them occupied. Technology brought us two FaceTime encounters with the DC part of the family and with my brother and his family celebrating in Barton Mills. Lots of loud noise and handwaving as everyone tried to make contact.

Another readily apparent change this Christmas is seen in this photo of the basket where we always put the Christmas cards we receive. Although we can explain the lack of cards by saying that so many of our friends are infirm or in way too many cases now dead, I know from talking to younger friends that the exchange of Christmas cards is becoming a dying custom. I am saddened by that fact, but I regret to say that this was not a Christmas for us to send cards or the customary letter—and last year was not either. I have thought lovingly of old friends and I fully intend to make up for my failure with some letters in the new year, but we all know where good intentions lead. I fear the age of Christmas cards is destined to become the era of Christmas tweets.

Autre temps, autres moeurs.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

For to everyone who has . . .

 . . . will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

Anyone reading this blog and noting that two of the last three entries have titles taken from the New Testament will be forgiven for wondering if he has come across an index to a book of homilies (or a political rant, of which there have been many in the press lately.)

This quotation came to me as I was writing in the last post about Cyber Monday and availing myself of discount coupons. I feel guilty. The catalogs that come from stores from whom I have already ordered offer me 40% off and free shipping. Krogers, where I spend an awful lot of money on food, regularly sends me a nice wallet of coupons with hefty discounts on some products I buy regularly (yes, Big Brother is watching) and a straight $5 or $10 on meat and on vegetables and $20 or so off my total bill.

I understand the business think. I am a regular shopper, known as a valued customer, and they are luring me back into their store for my well earned reward—and to spend more. But I wish they would provide a box where I could deposit my coupon for the use of someone who couldn’t afford to spend enough in the first place to warrant his own rebate. These would add up nicely for those who could use a little help with their grocery bills.

For to every one who has will more be given. I know this does not refer to material goods but to understanding. I still feel guilty.